Art as a driver to tackle pollution issues

10 May 2017

Making Sense has been taking a creative approach to understanding data in Placa del Sol.

Over the past few weeks, residents in the Placa have been gathering data with their Smart Citizen Kits, and making notes in their notebooks, comparing digital data with the specific things we saw and heard.

After our sensing period, we printed up graphs with the data gathered from all of the Smart Citizen Kits, and overlayed the times of the day to get a better sense of when noise levels were at their highest and lowest. We also compared the data we collected from the data gathered from Barcelona City Council’s sensors. We were amazed at how high the noise levels were on a consistent basis.


Our next step is to look at what to do with this data. We were visited by the folks from 300.000km/s, a firm of architects, urban planners and engineers, who joined us to start a conversation about how to use big data to paint a picture of Barcelona. They demonstrated ways of visualizing data in order to create different ways of seeing and understanding the city, including a map that marked a location in the city each time it was tagged on social media. This started some great conversations within our group about what kind of stories we are trying to tell about Placa del Sol, and about how we use the square. It also demonstrated the power of visuals to open doors for communication.


Art and design were part of another workshop we had with the design team Domestic Data Streamers. They showed us some of their innovative data visualization projects, and then engaged Placa del Sol residents in an activity to think about how to share the data findings, who we want to communicate with, and what we are hoping to achieve. This was a great first step to think creatively about our data and how it can be used to make a real change in the community.

Next steps? Stay tuned as we start to map a history of Placa del Sol and decide what we want our community to look like!

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