The MakeSense project began in early 2014 with a proposal to the Feedback Labs experiment fund, seeking to test the following hypothesis:
Citizen-led sensor monitoring of environmental factors will strengthen feedback loops by providing structured, accurate, and reliable data to compare against government measurements and news stories in the Amazon basin.
The funding amount of $60,000 was initially meant to support the following:
- Research to determine which pollutants to measure by GroundTruth Initiative, InfoAmazonia and Internews in partnership with communities and researchers
- Design and construction of several low-cost sensors by Internews and its academic partners
- Creation of the technical back end in FrontlineCloud by SIMLab to interpret incoming data, and create APIs useful for InfoAmazonia
- Support from InfoAmazonia to GroundTruth to connect its platform to FrontlineCloud
- Formalization of the standing informal partnership between GroundTruth Initiative, InfoAmazonia, Internews, and Social Impact Lab
The initial concept, drafted by FrontlineSMS (later SIMLab, its nonprofit institutional home), was meant to lay the groundwork for a further estimated $500,000 consortium project to build and expand on this sensor pilot. So, this small pilot was also envisioned as the beginning of a fund raising campaign and preparation for donor engagement that would grow substantially.
In the one and a half years that followed, the project made several detours from the initial plan, which explains its current dormant status. At the same time, however, it also made headway in certain key areas. This evaluation reviews this trajectory, and draws several lessons learned.
It is our hope that this open evaluation will be useful to others as they deploy similar projects, and fulfills our commitment to be as transparent as possible in our work
The report was written by Erica Hagen of GroundTruth Initiative, and is based on her knowledge of the project as a participant as well as interviews with each consortium member and reviews of project documents.
Download the Report: