Technology can be a daunting aspect of citizen sensing for many participants, especially those with little technical or scientific expertise. The purpose of having a quick sensing guide is twofold: firstly, it helps everyone keep track of the sensing activities (i.e. what is being measured, how and when) which are all things that have already been discussed, but can be found here for easy access. Secondly, this guide helps with the basic operation and maintenance of the sensor, serving as a basic field guide on how to operate the technology (as well as how to troubleshoot when things do not go as expected).

Format MethodTimeframe Duration of sensing stageGroup Size AllFacilitation Level MediumRequired Materials Pen and paper


  • Outline the key aspects of the chosen sensing strategy using clear headings or bullet points. Try to avoid confusion by making sure you only include information that is absolutely necessary in the guide.
  • If regular data collection is a key aspect, think about how to log those measurements and how to display that schedule. Try to think about the context in which the person will be using this guide. What is the simplest format to use?
  • Add space for data logging, journalling and notes. Try to turn the guide from a resource into a tool. As a participant’s source of reference and constant companion throughout the project, this will go a long way to creating familiarity with the sensing process.
  • Co-creating this guide with the community of sensing participants could offer some valuable insights into what shape this guide should take. For some communities, a digital tool might work better, whereas for others, good old-fashioned pen and paper will be the preferred choice.


Sensing is not always the simplest of processes. With a little help and guidance, you can avoid the most basic mistakes, and stick to the sensing strategy you have previously created.


Keep in mind the guiding question while implementing this method: what might I need to know in order to capture data?
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