From CoMeUp to UMPro!

CoMeUp officially ended in April 2013. A big thanks to Aapo and Sara for seeing it through! As outcomes we have a working mobile app, the CoMeUp app and two new projects, the Citizen Toolkit one, and UMPro (Urban Media Prototyping). We will continue using this blog for reporting the UMPro activities.

UMPro has started nicely with the New Media for the Third Sector (NMTS) course case for Spring 2013: Cleaning Day! Cleaning Day (Siivouspäivä) is a citizen-driven initiative for turning public space in cities into a carnival-like flea market and recycling extravaganza twice per year. We had already collaborated with the Cleaning Day activists during CoMeUp and decided to continue with UMPro.

We assisted our NMTS students in organizing a hackathon / digitalkoot day on the 16th of March, when a series of digital media outcomes were generated, such as a How To guide for Cleaning Day, Price tags with stories, promotional videos, and the foundation of a mobile app. The mobile app is currently being prepared for launch (for iOS and Android)! Suse Miessner, a Media Lab MA student and newest member of our UMPro team is coordinating the developments.

The next Cleaning Day is taking place on the 25th of May. The NMTS students are preparing a series of urban prototypes and in-situ interventions for that day. Stay tuned :)


Citizen Toolkit

CoMeUp was initiated to address topics of community-generated georeferenced media collection and sharing (particularly in urban spaces). This general idea has relevance to topics such as citizen science, community-organised events and services, community informatics, and participatory urban planning.

One of the outcomes of the Aalto Media Factory funded CoMeUp project are seeds for a citizen toolkit, which is currently being further developed as the part of the Kansalaisen Työkalupakki project funded by the Innovative City® Programme. The toolkit is maintained on the Helsinki Neighbourhoods Association (Helka ry:n) web server.

Kansalaisen Työkalupakki is designed to continually receive contributions of digital tools available for public use. Example cases in which one of the tools has been used are also documented on the Kansalaisen Työkalupakki site. If you use CoMeUp or any of the other tools, you might consider adding a description of your use case to the examples page.

The Citizen toolkit prototype on Helka ry's website

The Citizen toolkit prototype on Helka ry’s website

The toolkit will be actively tested during spring 2013 with various users such as members of HePo. If you are interested in joining testing during this time, please contact Sirkku Wallin (sirkku.wallin(at) Welcome!

Mobile app hackathon at Siivouspäivän digitalkoot on 16.3!

CoMeUp teams up with the New Media for the Third Sector course at Aalto University to propose a one day hackathon on 16.3! If you’re interested in getting your hands on the CoMeUp code and hacking up a wonderful mobile App for Cleaning day, then go register for the mobile app track at and meet us at the Aalto Media Factory in Arabia. YEEEEEAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!

Come to the hackathon!

Come to the hackathon!

Updates and presentation at Media Lab’s demoday

We’ve had a busy autumn after the Cleaning day experiments. Aapo has been working on the the mobile app using Phone Gap. He also wanted to try a browser version, which would work on the desktop and mobile. Sara helped us with some user interface design for the desktop UI.

CoMeUp test proto’s on a mobile browser

The CoMeUp proto on a desktop browser

We’ve been following the latest Instagram-related discussions (among other things) related to ownership rights to photos placed on the cloud and think that the work we’re doing in CoMeUp is more and more relevant every day. Creating and sharing digital media holds huge potentials for collaborative work, including in the area of Urban Planning. However, issues such a indivudual and collective rights to digital media have to be addressed. CoMeUp seeks alternatives for groups to produced, shared and handle digital media together without having to use commercial services or the cloud.

We are presenting our work on 20.12.2012 at Media Lab’s bi-annual Demo Day. You are most welcome to attend and try out the CoMeUp prototypes!

Our plans for next year include further collaboration with the Cleaning Day group. We are involving Aalto students this time via a course offered at the Department of Media. We will also further develop and test CoMeUp with other urban communities. Stay tuned!

Experiments during Cleaning Day (Siivouspäivä)

Cleaning Day, or Siivouspäivä in Finnish, was started for the first time in Spring 2012 in Helsinki, and was a big success. The idea, initially thought of by Pauliina Seppälä and friends, is simple: on Cleaning Day, you can set up a little flea market anywhere in the city, where you bring your old things and sell them or give them away. The Cleaning Day website provides a map interface where you can mark the spot of your own stand. During the second Cleaning Day on the 8th of September 2012, and thanks to collaboration with the City of Helsinki Public Works Department, the marking on the map is automatically considered as being pre-approved placements of sales spot, without any separate official permit needed.

Cleaning Day sewing workshops in Helsinki city center

Andrea, from our team, has been active in Siivouspäivä from the very beginning and knew the core group of people organizing it. We decided to propose to some of them to test our prototype for the CoMeUp App during this autumn’s Cleaning Day. Pauliina and Jaakko joined in and we provided them with one Samsung Galaxy and one iPhone complete with the prototype App and a working mobile internet.

Pauliina and Jaakko getting acquainted with the CoMeUp App one day before Cleaning Day

The mobile interface was still crude, but easy to use

The App work as followed: after initializing it, one could choose to take a picture, record audio, record a video, write text, or choose any of the above from existing galleries on the mobile phone (e.g. older pictures). Once the media was recorded or chosen, it could be identified by text to be inserted in a field (this text could be the title or  free form tags/keywords, or even hash tags – Pauliina and Jaakko used it mostly as a free tags/keywords and hash tag field). A list of pre-defined tags used by the Cleaning Day map interface users was also available, and tags could be picked from it.

Hash tags could also be used as signs on the stands

We also wanted to test briefly could there be any potential in using QR codes, but only staged some situations where we thought they could be used, in order to discuss the possibilities later.

A QR code for a specific location during Cleaning Dy could lead to a list of activities happening there, or to the list of objects being sold in the surroundings.

Some weeks after the Cleaning Day was over, we chatted with Pauliina, and later with Jaakko. The experiment clearly got them thinking about the potential of taking photos of the stuff that would be used during Cleaning Day, beforehand, as a way for people to browse what would be sold during the Cleaning day. Moreover, people could also document the stuff that had not been sold during Cleaning Day, so that others who might be interested in it, could later trace them. This photo documentation in a sense would extend Cleaning Day to  before and after the actual event. We will take these thoughts with us now and think of the next design steps and continue our collaboration with the Cleaning day people!

The prototype for the web interface

During October however, Joanna and Sara have to take a little break from CoMeUp to focus on their doctoral and masters thesis respectively! Aapo will continue to work on the mobile App. We are also hoping to organize a hackathon (à la Restaurant day hackathon, but for Aalto students!), probably February/March to get interested students from Aalto to develop the CoMeUp App and maybe a variation of it, which would especially address the Cleaning Day needs. We also plan to test the new iteration of the prototype with Kotikaupunkipolut (Home city paths) activists. Stay tuned!

Spring updates

Aapo and Joanna have been working on the mobile app (which we might eventually call ComAp… we’re still debating this). It is based on an initial prototype done in collaboration with students from the T-76.4115 course at Aalto SCI. The first App was build for Android. The one we have now has been build using Phone Gap, which means it is adapted for multi platforms.

Mobile application


Web interface

The App makes it possible to collaboratively create geo-referenced text, photo, audio and video entries around a topic of interest for communities. The idea is that this collected media would then be collaboratively handled and analyzed online, i.e. viewed, edited, categorized, so that it can eventually be used as a material for discussion and collaborative work. We are especially interested in researching how this can work with urban communities wanting to affect their everyday environment and eventually work with city officials and planners. We are also not using the cloud, but rather examining the idea of a community server, where communities have more control over the media content they produce and share.

Our user interface designer Anne Luotonen will join us during the month of June to develop the mobile app user interface and ideas for the web interface. Media lab student Sara Jacobsen will then take over in Autumn.

Wireframes for the user interface

Wireframes for the user interface