Experiment in Vitoria for the enhancement of public spaces through the assessment and public participation


The city of vitoria, has spent years introducing sustainability criteria in their public policies, not for nothing is one of the leading cities in terms of environmental management is concerned. The result of this interest in improving the environmental quality of the city, the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz has decided to collaborate in this pilot project that seeks to test experimentally, new tools for assessing the environmental quality that is composed of both technology sensors and tools and spaces for citizen participation.


One of the initiatives of empowerment (*) developed in the CITI-SENSE project (7th Framework Programme) focuses on the participation of citizens in the management / design of public open spaces. Participants are selected to measure environmental variables and provide their subjective perception of environmental quality and comfort of the public spaces. This empowerment initiative is being developed in Vitoria and applied in four different urban public spaces such as plazas and parks. Public spaces are elements that underpin the city, spaces are spaces of encounter and relationship, are spaces that determine the character of our city. Because of its importance as the backbone, it is also essential to have the participation of the people who give them life and sense of citizenship. 


Participants will be selected from the groups working on environmental issues established in the town. Each participant will evaluate selected for 2-3 days, by using mobile sensors and smartphones areas. Within each area, measures will be taken at specific sites. Each measurement takes about 10-15 minutes. A specific methodology was defined for participants to collect environmental data. The objective and subjective measures to be taken in the place are: 

Environmental data objectives: acoustic data, ultraviolet radiation and thermal conditions. 
Subjective Data: perception and evaluation by participants of environmental conditions (thermal comfort, acoustic comfort) and their perception of the quality of the place (overall satisfaction, cityscape, visual perception, Security, Cleaning). 
(*) An empowerment initiative is to develop a project with the participation of citizens and social partners, as well seek to acquire a body of knowledge and awareness of the issues discussed. Thus the "empowerment" is achieved.

Screens displayed to the participants of the questionnaire in the application

All information recorded in each measurement is centralized in a smartphone. Thus, the smartphone will not only receive data from mobile sensors, but also an interface to collect the perception of comfort (ie, questionnaires) and by the camera will help assess the perception of the urban landscape. 

A single application on smartphones will control the data logging and other services developed for access to sensor data. The application developed in CITI-SENSE has access to the recorded data and the participant provides information on the steps of the place. In addition, all information is sent and stored on a server in CITI-SENSE project so that you can access from a web portal. 

The collected data describing the state of the environment of the areas to urban comfort. This information will be useful for local when making decisions about the future of public spaces authorities. It will also allow research to improve understanding of the factors and environmental variables that influence the overall perception of the place. 

Given that Vitoria-Gasteiz is a city with a long tradition of ecological and sustainable policies (in 2012 the city was the European Green Capital), is expected to get an successful research initiative in public spaces and it can be used as a real / working example of implementing citizen observatories for other cities.


This experiment was carried out in 4 different places in the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz. If you want to know them better, you can access to "public areas" of the web, where you can see them on the map along with a description of them.

Screens displayed to the participants to view measurements from sensors on-site