The goal of FLAMENCO is to build and valorise an open reusable and reconfigurable citizen observatory platform for Flanders. Through this platform, (ICT-agnostic) stakeholders themselves can instantiate new citizen observatories for the particular application area they have in mind. Web services and mobile apps are generated accordingly. Data gathered involves sensorial data (e.g., noise levels, physical activity) as well as behavioural data (e.g., tolerance for delays in public transportation or sensitivity to public safety). In this scalable approach stakeholders see their concerns translated into procedures for successful participatory campaigning without having to rely on platform engineers. Only in this way can we move away from research-oriented deployments to the full-fledged adoption of citizen observatories as a societally and scientifically relevant method.
We situate the observatory around the notion of a campaign. A campaign is defined by a stakeholder (e.g., the cyclist’s association or a municipality) through constraints on the data that need to be collected (e.g., noise effects on teenagers in the centre of Antwerp during pub hours). Subsequently, the campaign is enacted through the stakeholder’s citizen observatory, which also monitors campaign progress in terms of incoming data, and orchestrates activities in case progress is not as expected. Finally, the campaign is analysed by producing the requested output (maps, reports). Despite the fact that campaigns constitute a fairly obvious notion, there currently exists only limited support for them. In this project they are essential in bridging the gap between stakeholder usability, data quality, and the well-known intricacies of engineering reconfigurable software.
Important technological research issues are reactivity (i.e., dealing with data flows and the propagation of change) and coordination in citizen observatories as data-intensive cloud applications, and processing large amounts of heterogeneous and “dirty” data. But there is more. Acknowledging the fact that a citizen observatory only exists through its contributors, this project also investigates user engagement and motivation, studying a.o. its relation to privacy issues and the effect of game elements. Likewise, a citizen observatory’s existence is only justified when it informs the domain it is designed for, and this means translating enormous quantities of data into qualitative statements about indicators, impact and costs. FLAMENCO will deliver policy-supporting tools in the domains of sustainable mobility and environmental monitoring.