December 20, 2017

Prototyping a new Heathrow Airport: questioning ontological and epistemological framings of research

Case study by Christian Nold, UCL

This initiative involved working with residents living near Heathrow airport to design noise-sensing hardware. Devices installed in their homes and gardens gathered independent evidence of the impact of noise on people and wildlife. The project registered complaints about off-hour flights while gathering a long-term dataset. The data shared with local authorities fed into consultation processes, and was also used to produce local audio soundscapes, which allowed others to hear both the noise and its startling effects on wildlife.

CS aspect: The collaborative design of the project produced better evidence of noise impacts and engaged audiences not directly affected by the flight noise.

OS aspect: The use of open hardware ensured accessibility and long-term availability of the data.

Thus CS and OS can be combined to create forms of evidence that are useful for affected groups, allowing them to challenge environmental policy when needed.

Contact: Christian Nold, University College London


Nold, C; (2017) Device Studies of Participatory Sensing: Ontological Politics and Design Interventions. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).


This case study is part of the DITOs Policy Brief "Citizen Science and Open Science: Synergies and Future Areas of Work".

Share on