WHO WE ARE
Sensing Local is a think-tank of architects, urbanists, and technologists in Bengaluru, India with a core focus on making cities healthier, safer, and more inclusive. The organization’s work is nested at the intersection of the built and the natural environment, of the government and citizens, and of urban planning and technology. To do this, we collaborate with diverse stakeholders such as municipalities, NGOs, community groups, and private companies.
Our primary value add within the diverse partnerships tends to be one of building methodology in a project process, system understanding of an issue as well as strategizing to optimize resources and facilitate evidence based decision making. Aside from this, given the inherent complexities and conflicts within urban issues, we also often act as mediators and curators of divergent perspectives, know-how and data points.
WHY ARE WE DOING THIS
Cities form the epicenter
of influence in the anthropocene
From a species perspective, cities represent an antipodal position to our primordial migratory behaviour of moving place to place in search of the safest and most resourceful habitats. On one hand, cities have been viewed as highest consumers of energy, contributors to CO2 etc. On the other hand lies the idea that cities are our greatest investment for the future although they need to be better fitted to support our chances at safer and healthier living.
Sensing Local germinates from the need to tackle the gap in mainstream knowledge and data on the complexity of the local environments we inhabit, and the inter-dependencies born out of the pattern and impact of resources we consume today. We imagine these instruments of sensing not just as technological plug-ins but extended organs of the body and of the habitat.Thus resulting in outcomes that facilitate/enable behavioural adaption to the environment or aid engineering changes to the same.
For instance, there exist official city-level data and city-level strategies to mitigate air pollution, or national-level strategies to segregate waste at source. But, in the local context, how does a public park bring down pollution in the neighbourhood or how do we decentralize segregated waste collection in a metro city?
Sensing is imagined as a leeway into how we augment our understanding of the impact of environmental threats such as rising toxicity in the air and water around us, mapping effects of climate change, or even demystifying complex urban systems. Its applications pervade fields of public health, urban planning amongst others.
This then brings questions to the fore as to how embedding sensing — specific to place and people — through mechanisms of monitoring, reporting, managing, and even self-managing can influence inter-stakeholder relations and responsibilities towards the environment at large. How can this decentralization of ownership and access of sensing practices lead to a process of democratization of data and knowledge of the environment around us. Can everyday local observations then translate into ground-up contributions towards optimization of use of infrastructure? Further, to what extent can diverse practices of citizens’ everyday sensing lead to more accurate diagnostics of need and reorient delivery of solution at ground?