There are times when people need to do some retrospection. Knowing and learning from the past is the best way to avoid making the same mistakes again and again. Then again, sometimes you have to focus on the future. One of the main questions for the future is: where am I going to live? To help you decide, there is SmartCitizen.Me.
Smart Citizens For Smart Cities
When it comes to initiating a technology based progress, we depend a lot on the industry and government. Individuals, communities or businesses are treated as target groups in the globalisation process. Thinking globally and doing locally is hard, and thinking locally and going global is even harder. On a city level, there is a lot of sketchy and outdated data procured from official sources. So, why go there if you can collect data from the citizens themselves in real time? You can build a better, smarter city.
So what is exactly Smart Citizen? Currently in beta, it is crowdfunded, crowdsourced and open source distributed sensor network. It is composed of three parts. Smart Citizen kit is the brain, or better to say arduino-compatible hardware piece that collects the data. Think temperature, humidity, air composition, ambient brightness, and sound levels. It may seem like a small fraction if only you use it, but think what could results can be concluded from that data from hundreds of places in one city. Imagine this kind of technology used in cities with bad environmental situations like Beijing.
Interactive and Independent Data Source
Second part of the Smart Citizen is the data visualisation web API. What is open source for regular people if they cannot read it? Online component is used for logging and visualising data measured by the hardware. Once you set up the hardware part on your balcony or any other relatively secure open space, you navigate the web, visualise your measurements, share them with others and see what others are sharing. Third part is the mobile app, that allows you to navigate between first two parts of the Smart Citizen. You set the frequency of the update, and if you are currently unavailable to update, you can take your kit offline.
About a year ago, successful Kickstarter campaign was completed and initial number of 150 citizens in Barcelona with the Smart Citizen Kit was spread out in a larger number globally. They are also working on designing additional shields for use in soil and water testing for urban agriculture (in collaboration with Refarm The City), measuring electromagnetic fields, tracking energy consumption and air composition inside the home, and even monitoring biometrics. That kind of thing happens when you gather an international team of scientists, architects, graphic designers, and engineers under the name Acrobotics Industries.
In The Future
If and when these additional upgrades come, it will not only help in real estate market on account of “better air”. Imagine what could be done with more accurate environmental reports in agricultural communities. Climate is changing, and unfortunately it is chaining for the worst. If you take this relatively slow global change that is interesting to few bigger academic communities, and make it more personal, you can raise the awareness with much less aggression and with data that you are sure is coming from unbiased individual and not money powered entity.
Anything crowd driven is a risk taking adventure. However, Smartcitizen.me is a bright example of how things should and can be done. Combination of real world data, online availability and easy to use kit, it is an invasive personal approach to global environmental problem. We are tempted to buy one and have our little contribution to raising awareness of our surroundings and global warming. What are you waiting for?