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The Bristol Approach

The Bristol Approach is a new way of working that puts communities and their needs at the heart of innovation.

Check out our new website and resource:

Bristol has an expanding digital industry and was recently ranked as one of the top two cities in the UK Smart Cities Index (2016). However, we know that large-scale ‘smart city’ programmes don’t always address the needs and priorities of communities.

Working with Ideas for Change and Bristol City Council, we have developed The Bristol Approach: a way of working that aims to understand the issues people care about. Rather than ‘pushing’ technology or pre-determined ‘solutions’ onto people, The Bristol Approach focuses on supporting people to work together to ‘pull-in’ the knowledge, technology and resources needed to tackle a problem.

The Damp Busters pilot has followed the phases of The Bristol Approach (outlined below) and has developed new ways of measuring the problem of damp in homes, including designing a frog-shaped temperature and humidity sensor. The pilot is moving into its second phase and there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. Contact Martha for more details.

The Bristol Approach framework is also currently being implemented within the five-year European partnership project REPLICATE, as part of a strand of work to uncover issues surrounding air quality in East Bristol and explore the impact of air quality on people’s travel behaviour

Join in the conversation online with the hashtag #bristolapproach

An Artist's Approach

See The Bristol Approach in action

 The Framework

The Bristol Approach framework contains six phases.  It has been structured to ensure that community technology programmes are driven by issues that are relevant to local needs and take place at community level, with local people actively involved in design, testing and evaluation.

A circular diagram outlining the six steps of The Bristol Approach

The Story So Far…

In 2016 we worked with artists Paul Hurley and Caleb Parkin and communities across Bristol to identify issues that people were passionate about tackling:

  • Private tenants and advocacy groups reported damp problems in homes
  • Independent traders said they found it difficult to predict customer flow and numbers
  • Wildlife groups were keen to measure the biodiversity of parks and green spaces, to demonstrate the health of the local ecosystem and protect it in the future

Diverse groups of residents, artists, technologists, makers and activists formed around these issues. The ‘Dampbusters’ group followed the six phases of The Bristol Approach (shown above) to investigate if sensors or other sensing technologies could be used to gather relevant data and tackle the issues.

Find out how they put The Bristol Approach into action in the new Bristol Approach booklet.

What is The Bristol Approach to ‘Citizen Sensing’?

The Bristol Approach to Citizen Sensing refers to applying the processes and ethos of The Bristol Approach framework to sensing, ‘smart city’ and technology projects.

‘Citizen Sensing’ is a process where people build, use, or act as, sensors – for example, identifying and gathering information (or ‘data’) that will help them to tackle an issue that’s important to them. This sensing process could involve creating a bespoke temperature sensor from scratch or using a piece of technology that already has an in-built sensor, like a smartphone. However simple or complex the technology, and whatever the data being gathered, citizen sensing is about empowering and enabling people to use technology for social good.

Find out more

If your community has an issue or challenge that you think sensor technology could help to tackle, please contact Zoe on 0117 903 0444.

If you’re interested in working with us to develop technical solutions or manufacture casings for new sensor technologies please contact Carolyn.

Contact Us

Knowle West Media Centre
Leinster Avenue
Knowle West
+44 (0) 117 903 0444

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