Adnan installs the MAZI box on the roof of Quintessence. So far we had been running the MAZI zone from our living room (inside the LEGO box). Now it goes out of the lego box into a weather proof casing.
This research project on the boat looks into the development of the boattr prototype in collaboration with MAZI (for “together” in Greek), a Horizon2020 research project. Boattr connects narrow boats to the ‘Internet-of-Things’ and allows for open wireless mesh-networking within the narrow boat community, by using affordable microcomputers. The main goal of this project is to provide technology and knowledge that aims to 1) empower those narrow boats who are in physical proximity, to shape their hybrid urban space, together, according to the specificities of the respective local environment, and 2) foster participation, conviviality, and location-based collective awareness of the canals. The boattr prototype will build on the MAZI toolkit and the capabilities offered by Do-It-Yourself networking infrastructures – low-cost off-the-shelf hardware and wireless technologies – that allow small communities or individuals to deploy local communication networks that are fully owned by local actors, including all generated data. These DIY networks could cover from a small square (e.g., using a Raspberry Pi) to a city neighbourhood (e.g., the Commotion Construction Kit used at the RedHook WiFi initiative) or even a whole city (e.g., guifi.net, awmn.net, freifunk.net), and in the case of boattr the UK canal network.
Interactive Dissemination over the MAZI webportal will offer a chance for personal interaction in academic, socio-economic (and possibly selected commercial) conferences, EU organised events and conferences and trade fairs and exhibitions, and most importantly with policy bodies, regulatory and funding bodies that decide on research and innovation in water and waste between EU countries. The interactive channel of dissemination is intended for target groups with a high level of information need and involvement and it therefore provides information tailored to highly targeted audiences (in the case of the boattr project the ‘narrow boat’ community). The interactive channel is expected to be the most efficient means for community building and have the highest impact on dissemination and exploitation.
MAZI is a confirmed (accepted) Horizon2020 research project with which Coventry University could potentially partner up by supporting the boattr research project. MAZI will run until 2019, allowing for future development and deployment of the boattr prototype (once established by the end of 2016 or beginning of 2017). Having acquired a partner status with the MAZI project will allow for boattr to disseminate and promote its activities, via the partners’ networks of databases, if applicable to some partners in their countries including accessing networks in other international regions. The MAZI consortium members have considerable experience in marketing such events and projects both directly and through leading international events, disseminating information to targeted audiences through both online and off-line channels, and recruiting qualified participants to the brainstorming, networking workshops and international conferences. In summary: 1) Roadmap and Recommendations, White Paper and Continuity Plan, Brainstorming reports, results of the clustering activities and the documentation presented in events will all be made available through the MAZI portal. 2) MAZI partners will use their databases for targeted mail-shots to inform EU researchers about project activities and workshops, events and conferences; 3) Articles, email announcements and electronic newsletters will be carried out to maximise visibility of the boattr objectives, results and developments.
The boattr DIY infrastructures offer a unique rich set of special characteristics and affordances for offering local services to the narrow boat community, outside the public Internet: the ownership and control of the whole design process that promotes independence and grassroots innovation rather than loss of control and fear of data shadows; the de facto physical proximity of those connected without the need for disclosing private location information, such as GPS coordinates, to third parties; the easy and inclusive access through the use of a local captive portal launched automatically when one joins the network; the option for anonymous interactions; and the materiality of the network itself. The prototype will integrate existing FLOSS software, from very simple applications to sophisticated distributed solutions (like those under development by the P2Pvalue project, mobile sensing devices, and recent developments in open data and open hardware), allowing it to be appropriated by different non-expert users according to their respective context and use case; it will offer a wide unique variety of customization options.
The boattr project already receives in kind contributions from Deckspace medialab in form of access to the medialab’s server farm (on root level); from the MAZI project in the form of access to the MAZI toolkit, databases & network; and privately in the form of access to two narrow boats as case study for the boattr prototype. Other funding opportunities to be pursued are Horizon2020 (CAPS), Leverhulme Trust, as well as the Heritage Lottery Fund. Ideally the boattr/MAZI project would partner up with the Canal and River Trust, a charity, which is entrusted to care for 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales, which are often over 200 years old (an enormous network of bridges, embankments, towpaths, aqueducts, docks and reservoirs and more). The waterways provide an unfenced, ‘no turnstiles’ opportunity to interact with history and nature next to soothing water.