The Vespucci Institutes 2016 - Programme


Fiesole, Italy

Week 1: July 11 to 15, 2016

"VGI & Policy: managing, integrating and targeting crowdsourced information"


Benicasim, Spain 

Week 2: September 5 to 9, 2016

GEO-C MSCA Joint Doctorate
"Sensors and Mobile Apps for Smart Cities"



Week 1: July 11 to 15, 2016

"IC1203 COST ENERGIC: VGI & Policy: managing, integrating and targeting crowdsourced information" 


  • Cristina Capineri (University of Siena)
  • Max Cragilia (JRC)
  • Muki Haklay (UCL)
  • Claire Ellul (UCL)
  • Teresa Scassa (University of Ottawa)
  • Thomas Bartoschek (University of Münster)


The 2016 Vespucci/COST Energic Summer Institute will be dedicated to the interaction of volunteered geographic information (VGI) and policy, and to the manifold ways of employing VGI in decision making. Topics to be addressed include assisting institutions to find information that can support decision making, helping them understand the quality and fitness for purpose of this information and exploring how VGI tools, techniques and approaches can best be used to produce information to support the implementation of good policies.

The 1-week long institute will address these issues through practical scientific activities, where participants actively contribute their knowledge and know-how while using the tools and resources provided to develop a more in-depth understanding of the links between VGI and policy. Topics that will be covered include the role of information in environmental governance, data integration from authoritative and VGI sources, applications of VGI for environmental management (especially citizen science).

Facilitators will provide experimental data and facilities for researchers, highlight some key questions to be addressed in this area and develop these further with the group, as well as work with participants to understand the potential of co-production of information and policy. Under the guidance of the facilitators, participants will be encouraged to explore new directions in their research, test methods from other disciplines, and experience data collection activities themselves. During the week, the participants will develop, in groups, a project investigating Data and Data Quality for Policy Makers along the following lines:

Participants will first identify a real world policy that needs to be created/modified (e.g. maximum air quality levels, noise levels, access to transportation, access to health care services). They will then conduct some research to find out about existing legislation relating to this policy, and how compliance with the policy is currently measured (e.g. via official noise meters, demographics, crow-fly distance measurement). Participants will then explore how crowd sourced data (perhaps in combination with other data sources) can be used to inform any required changes in policy or to underpin the development of new policies in this area (e.g. show ineffectiveness of existing ways of measuring compliance). A method for crowd sourcing the required data should also be proposed, taking into account both the initial engagement task – how to get people interested in the project – and ongoing engagement – how to ensure that data collection can be maintained over time. Issues of inclusion should also be considered.

A specific focus of the exercise will be the technical aspects of data management from beginning to end and how to do this in a longer term project. This may include:

  • What software/tools exist to capture/store/manage data appropriately allowing it to be used for policy making but also maintaining the rights of the participants?
  • What costs are involved in doing this (e.g. paying for a data server, paying for setup of a database)

The groups should also consider traditional data quality issues – completeness, currency and so forth – and how these can be incorporated into the data capture/management process and fed into the process of convincing policy makers about the quality of the datasets – they should present a clear method of including data quality information in this crowd sourced data to convince policy makers that the data can be used in conjunction with the ‘official’ datasets currently in use.


The Summer Institute is open to a wide range of activities including biodiversity/conservation observations and recording (citizen science); governance that involves geographic information; volunteer thinking where the tasks are geographical/location-specific; Do It Yourself (DIY) science; and community/civic science.


Week 2: September 5 to 9, 2016

"GEO-C MSCA Joint Doctorate: Sensors and Mobile Apps for Smart Cities"



Many models of smart cities involve mobile apps in the hands of citizens, connecting to a potential collection of millions of sensors. But let’s take a step back and critically examine what we know about mobile apps: what works and what does not. Are sensors and sensor networks living up to their potential, or are they just industry-led hype? What are the organisational, ethical, and social implications of a fully sensorized smart-city? Intense group work and debate, mixed with relaxation, will seek to uncover gaps in current thinking and research agendas.

This summer institute contributes to the goals of the doctoral program “Geoinformatics: Enabling open cities”  
In  true Vespucci spirit we decided NOT to organize the week in a busy, distracting city, but rather in a small town where slow and measured thinking can happen.
Benicassim is a seaside (and mountain) bicycling town, with several options to rent normal and electric bikes.
Special room rates (details to be announced) at Hotel Voramar


Draft Schedule (coffee breaks and lunches not listed here)

Monday Sept 5

  • Welcome and introduction to Vespucci
  • Introduction of attendees
  • Facilitator1 presentation and group discussion
  • Group challenge
  • Writing workshop 1

Tuesday Sept 6

  • Presentations on group challenge results
  • Facilitator2 presentation and group discussion
  • Assign small groups and topic
  • Sensors: What to sense, how, when and why
  • senseBox: a citizen science approach 
  • Vespucci group dinner

Wednesday Sept 7

  • Facilitator3 presentation and group discussion
  • Working excursion (morning or afternoon depending on weather)
  • Small group work
  • Economics: Who pays (and how) for all these good ideas?
  • Soapbox: speak your mind (lightning talks)

Thursday Sept 8

  • Tradeoffs: openness, security, transparency, mobility, privacy, other
  • Small group work
  • Writing workshop 2
  • Soapbox

Friday Sept 9

  • Small group work
  • How can we help to minimize the friction
  • Small group presentations, and awards
  • Vespucci group farewell dinner