There is an increasingly recognized need to transform our cities and our neighborhoods toward sustainability, equity and resilience. And to make it on an evidence-based and shared understanding, building and implementing policies in a collaborative and co-designed way.
On these bases, the WeCount initiative lays. WeCount (Citizens Observing Urban Transport) is a Horizon 2020 funded project that aims to empower citizens to engage and commit in the generation of data and the production of knowledge on the topic of mobility in their own neighborhoods and at the street level. Citizens participate in an innovative and co-created system of road traffic counting sensors based on automation along with multi-stakeholder’s engagement mechanisms. This project includes five case studies in Spain (Madrid and Barcelona), Ljubljana, Dublin, Cardiff and Leuven.
WeCount collects data of urban traffic, gathered by the citizens through sensors located at their house’s windows and uploaded in real time in a web-based platform. By this action, data about mobility is collected and immediately visualized by everyone on the web. The visualized data on mobility includes: speed, traffic volume, modal split (including pedestrian and cycling counts) and air quality at the level of a segment of local street. Therefore, the project provides cost-effective data for local authorities, at a far greater temporal and spatial scale than what would be possible in classic traffic counting campaigns, thereby opening up new opportunities for transportation policymaking and research.
On the one hand, the generated data bases are useful for the policy-makers for the formulation and design of initiatives at the local level and for the orientation on certain decisions. More significantly, the new crowdsourced data are relevant and “unignorable” for making policies sounder and making citizens more engaged in the building-up of urban policies.
One of the most promising outputs is the WeCount Engagement Framework and Toolkit, a set of engagement methods, guidelines and recommendations for identifying and nurturing local communities and providing them support for leading citizen science actions in their contexts, building in that way an important legacy to enable others to replicate the initiative in other contexts beyond the end and the scope of the project.
cambiaMO is an active observer of this promising project, with his co-director Gianni Rondinella participating in the Advisory Board, providing assessment on the overall evolution of project, its outcomes and impacts.