Damp Homes

Damp homes are a major problem in Bristol – and many areas across the UK – affecting people’s health and wellbeing. The ‘Damp-Busters’ pilot project brought people across Bristol together to create new community-led solutions to tackling damp homes; using a mix of sensing technology, community know-how and existing open source resources.

Who got involved?

Illustration of teachers, business people, artists

University researchers, businesses, hackers, open data specialists, artists, architects, investors, charities, housing associations, and city council representatives for housing, environmental health, building control etc.

People wanted to join the project either due to their involvement with the subject matter -ie.: damp homes or their interest in creating change through co-design and using technology.

A mix of personal invites, wide media communications, visits to specific groups and an artist commission to spend time ‘professionally hang-out’ listening to people on the streets was necessary to connect these people and form a shared goal.

How did they sense the problem?

People came together for both regular self-organised meetings and a range of practical workshops facilitated by artists and creative technologists, including ‘hack-days’* and making sessions.

What was created?

Through co-design* workshops the group designed a ‘damp busting’ system including: a mix of sensing technology, community know-how and existing ‘open-source’* resources. Everyone acknowledged that community training, human-data collection and face to face work had to go hand in hand with any digital sensing “The Bristol Approach is interesting because it is not just a matter of getting the technology right – it’s taking a much more holistic approach to gathering data and using it.” (workshop participant)

A prototype frog-cased sensor (because frogs don’t mind the damp!) was created by the group and the KWMC Factory to gather temperature and humidity data in homes affected by damp. The sensor sat on a paper lily pad which acted as a ‘data diary’ for people to record their own human-data notes: e.g – did lots of washing.

What was the result?

Through the project:

A team of volunteers were trained in diagnosing different types of damp so they could support others to use the damp diagnosis platform and sensors. A schools training package was delivered so students aged 8 and 9 could learn more about data and the impact it has on our everyday lives, from collection to analysis and visualisation.

People who were part of the project:

  • Learnt new skills and developed greater understanding of data, damp and sensing technology
  • Felt more included in solution making
  • Further investment was made at a city level in technical developments to make citizen sensing infrastructure more accessible
  • Ground-work was laid for future partnerships and collaborations, between citizens, charities, universities, community organisations etc.

This project was developed as part of The REPLICATE Project, a five-year European initiative linking Bristol with Florence and San Sebastian. The REPLICATE Project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 691735.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 691735.

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