Barcelona’s former factory neighborhood Poblenou, meaning ‘new town’, is witnessing a new type of industry in the neighbourhood’s streets. A citizen census for anyone connected to the internet is letting people collect and share local data on a large scale in real time. Gathering information and knowledge on historic buildings, community spaces, plants and even temperatures, the project is created and maintained by the area’s citizens.
First developed as a pilot project in May 2014, CitizenSqKm was funded by the European Union as a technological, educational and journalistic project to aid research for community networks. Mònica Garriga Miret, a project leader at CitizenSqKm, describes how the work being done is a methodology to community engagement and participation: “It is not sufficient anymore to simply conduct a description and transmission of facts to audiences. The communication process needs to instigate citizen participation and create some form of democratic debate.”
Projects range from documenting and archiving the history of the neighbourhood to classifying plant types found in the area, in collaboration with University Autonomo Barcelona. Work is also being done to map ‘urban voids’ which show where the city’s resources are being used and opportunities for new ways to use public space.
Amical Wikimedia and the Salvador Espriu secondary school have teamed up with Km2 Poblenou to help preserve the photographic work and historical research by local artist Xavier Badia. Amical Wikimedia is working to develop a protocol for the preservation of local memory in graphic form, and the Xavier Badia Archive will be its first project of this kind. Students at the school are learning about their neighbourhood’s industrial past by studying the archive and geolocating historical images over today’s buildings.
La Taula de l’Eix Pere IV, a group of residents in Poble Nou, are working to overcome existing divisions in the neighbourhood by developing a protocol to provide accurate mapping of disused spaces, encouraging other residents to contribute to the project as well as discovering more empty spaces and imagining new ways to make use of them.
Celebrating the area’s past and present, and utilising all the benefits that new technologies have to offer, this project is part of a growing movement – giving a free and open voice to people in their community.
Do you have something to map on CitizenSqKm? Add your information here or contact the project directly to get involved. If you want to know how you can apply these ideas in your own area go to the tutorial page.
Mònica Garriga Miret and Narcís Vives, Project Leaders
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