Claim your smart citizenship

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Claim your smart citizenship: How networked citizens can get a grip on their own smart city

This workshop is part of the Design & The City conference, Amsterdam, 22 April 2016

A hands-on workshop for prototyping a ‘layman toolkit’ for engaging citizens in smart city design.


Interested in participation? Submit a proposal.

Call for Proposals (html)

Call for Proposals (pdf)


Workshop Description

In this workshop we’ll address a major issue that is inextricably linked to The Internet of Things and the smart city concepts:

How can networked citizens get a grip on their own smart city?

And following this, we are interested in finding leads that inform us about the role designers can play in enabling people (networked citizens) to design and make their own smart application.

Today the most referenced Internet of Things applications and Smart Cities concepts emphasize the opportunities for more efficient  (potential) customers’ data-analytics for enterprises and the advantages of gathering bulk information for policymakers, retail and designers alike. In this neo-liberal discourse it is often overlooked that the Internet of Things also offers interesting opportunities for social issues that are very personal and/or focus on social or societal value rather than on profit or business opportunities by default. Here IoT literacy is of crucial importance for empowering those who are interested to take IoT in their own hands and turn smart cities to social benefits for citizens by themselves.

In the offline world we are familiar with plenty of examples where people demonstrated their will and ability for self-organisation and crowd sourcing initiatives in civic society such as the Dutch national bird counting day (Vogelbescherming) and self-organised crowdsourced noise pollution measuring surrounding Schiphol International Airport (Burgermeetnet/ Geluidsnet). In other non-digital fields such as regular hardware and tool shops for home construction or crafting personal clothing, we also meet the impressive potential of creative personal production capabilities. When taking all this into account, the following question is: how could citizens become more aware of the possibilities and benefits of (local) IoT networks and devices, and (co)create those themselves?



In earlier work, we worked according to a participatory approach for engaging citizens in the design process of (local) applications of interactive technology in (labs in) their neighborhood (Van Waart, et al, 2015; Van Waart, et al 2015; Harbers et al, 2015). The next step (this workshop) is to engage with the networked people, understand their needs, the tools for empowerment and the role the designer could play in all this. We therefore propose a DIY LoraWAN workshop, where students, urban citizens, designers, and policymakers work together to realise a low-fidelity working prototype of a networked (smart) device.  We draw on knowledge and experiences from art and design education where learning through making and research through design have a long tradition. This creative pedagogical aspect will be combined with the hands-on Do it Yourself approach as known from, the makers movement, labs and hackers’ approaches. All these approaches underline the relevance of making as a mode of understanding one’s environment. (Mostert-van der Sar et al 2013). Other important references this workshop proposals draws from are e.g. a participatory design research framework (Sanders, Stappers, 2008) and early art and design experiments that dealt with pre-IoT concepts.




This is a DIY LoraWAN workshop, where students, urban citizens, designers, and policymakers work together to realise a low-fidelity working prototype of a networked (smart) device. The participants are invited to upload their ideas online in a instructable-like environment (Wiki) where all our participants in the near future will be invited to share their concepts and designs with others for re-use or repurposing goals.

The organizers will adopt the results from the workshop in future research and publications, for developing knowledge on the engagement of citizens as co-creators through participatory methods for smart cities.

The organizers aim for strengthening the network of pioneers (such as the workshop participants) for future knowledge sharing and collaboration.

In the long run, with the lessons learned from the workshop and earlier projects, we come to an understanding how to engage citizens as co-creators in the smart. In future sessions and/or labs, the instructables created by participants will contribute t an inventory of smart devices people can build themselves to connect with LoRaWAN, and thus supporting the impact of The Things Network as citizen owned IoT network worldwide.



We aim to have a heterogeneous participant group of max. 25 people, re-presenting networked citizens, people with specific questions, youngsters, students, entrepreneurs and policymakers.

At least 5 participants with programming skills (and bring in their laptop) are invited to support teams of participants in finalising the connection between device and network.



Workshop with breaks 1 full-day . Lunch provided by Design + The city

The activities of teams participants take place in three sessions:

  • Think Things, during which teams will conceptualize a smart device;
  • Make Things, during which the teams will prototype their design into a functional demonstrator using Arduino and sensors that can be connected to the local LoRaWAN-network;
  • Share Things, during which teams will create an instructable to be uploaded to a public wiki that explains how to make and connect the device.

After the hands-on session we plan a small demonstrator and exchange event in the room and a discussion about future possibilities could take place.



09.30 – 10.00 Plenary, introduction and theoretic background (ending in coffee break)

10.00 – 11.30 Think Things – concepting / design

11.30 – 15. 00 Make Things: prototype (lunch in between)

15.00 – 15.30 Peer review & Tea break

15.30 – 17.30 Share Things: make an instructable to share your ideas & small expo and exchange meetup with other conference delegates

We expect the participant will make a (working) prototype demonstrators and upload their instructable (manuals) on the wiki site.


Organizers’ names and short bios

Peter van Waart, is lecturer at the course Communication & Multimedia Design and researcher in research center Creating 010, both of Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences (RUAS). His PhD study at TU Delft focus on guidelines for designing meaningful technology applied in the urban domain. Van Waart is one of the initiators of Rotterdam Open Data and StadsLab Rotterdam, and I initiated and coordinated the minor Urban Interaction Design (Urban IxD). Next to that he initiated and organised the Global Service Jam Rotterdam, the Rotterdam GovJam and the International Internet of Things Day Rotterdam. All of this aims for the participation of Rotterdam citizens in designing meaningful applications for urban living.

Inge Ploum, is lecturer at the course Communication & Multimedia Design, and a creator and researcher of digital media. She explores how media impact societies and shape world views. Her focus is on the ‘how’; how the media themselves ‘speak’ as cultural objects, how to think critically about media, and how imagined futures are constructed through mediated interactions. Ploum graduated ‘cum laude’ at the University of Amsterdam.

Leo Remijn is lecturer at the course Creative Media and Game Technology and researcher in research center Creating 010 Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences. Remijn is specialized in making and crafting in the new making industries and innovative making processes in labs.

Brigit Lichtenegger Coordinator Interaction Station of Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences. Before she worked as software engineer for Almende and V2_Lab of V2 Institute for the Unstable Media. Brigit is founder of Creative Machinery for consultancy and software development in New Media technologies. Her main interest and specialization is in the field of Virtual Reality, and interactive story telling.

Simon de Bakker is working as a software and hardware engineer and is exploring the fields of embedded technologies, smart textiles and soft-sensor design. He holds a BSc in Interaction Design and an MA in Interactive Multi-Media. De Bakker works as Teacher Digital Craft, instructor Interaction Station, Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences. Specialties: Embedded systems, soft / textile integrated system design, remote services.

Anne Nigten is professor Design in network ecologies, research center Creating 010, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences and director of the Patching Zone, an innovation lab for transdisciplinary research and development. Anne lectures on research and development in the interdisciplinary field from an art perspective, she is advisor and board member for several media art and science initiatives in Europe. Anne completed her PhD at Central Saint Martin’s, University of the Arts London (UK) and publishes on creative innovation and transdisciplinary innovation in the arts, design, engineering and science.





Andersen, K., Nigten, A., Fuller M., 2005, Worn, proceedings of Wearable Futures Conference – Hybrid Culture in the Design and Development of Soft Technology, University of Wales, UK.

Harbers, M., Waart, P. van, & Visser, E. (2015). Value Sensitive Design of Smart Cities. Paper presented at the Charting the Next Decade for Value Sensitive Design Workshop, Aarhus, Denmark.

Nigten, A., (2014), The Design Process of an Urban Experience, Proceedings HCI conference 2014, Springer.

Sanders, E. and Stappers, P., 2008, Co-creation and the new landscapes of design, CoDesign.

Waart, P. van, Visser, E., & Harbers, M. (2015). How to Design for Diversity in Smart Cities?Paper presented at Cultural Diversity and Technology Design Workshop at the 7th International Communities and Technologies Conference, Limerick, Ireland.

Mostert-van der Sar, Mulder, Remijn, Troxler, 2013, Fablabs in design education, international conference on engineering and product design education 5 & 6 september 2013, Dublin institute of technology, Dublin, Ireland.

Van Waart, P., Mulder, I., & de Bont, C. (2015, May 18–20). Participatory prototyping for future cities. In R. Valkenburg, C. Dekkers, & J. Sluijs (Eds.), Proceedings of PIN-C 2015: Reframing design, the 4th participatory innovation conference (pp. 337–343). Hague, the Netherlands: The Hague University of Applied Sciences.