CoMeUp @ Siltamäen ala-aste

CoMeUp is one of the tools that are part of the citizen toolkit. We have developed it at the Arki research group of Aalto ARTS during 2012. In its current form, it a web-based application that functions mobile phones or computers. We can guarantee that it works nicely on Samsung Galaxy SIII, but might require further work in other phones (Hint: funding needed ;)

The aim of CoMeUp was to explore ways for small groups to collect and share digital media without having to use the commercial service providers such as Flickr, YouTube, or Facebook. During the CoMeUp project funded by Aalto Media Factory we tested an initial version of the application with some of the initiators of the Cleaning Day initiative (Siivouspäivä). Later, we worked on paper and pen prototypes to come up with the current improved version with members of three urban communities.

In May 2013 we had the pleasure to test the current CoMeUp version with the 5 b class at Siltamäki’s primary school. 13 boys and 6 girls, with ages ranging between 11 and 12, went out in the Siltamäki neighborhood armed with mobile phones and the CoMeUp App running on the phone’s browser. The idea was for them to document plants that exist in the neighborhood, as well as one’s own favorite spots. The teacher divided the students in fours groups, and after a trial round, off they were on a citizen/kid science exploration.

Phones being charged

Phones being charged

Testing the CoMeUp app indoors first

Testing the CoMeUp app indoors first

Off we go!

Off we go!

Close up shot

Close up shot

It was amazing to see how comfortable the children were with mobile phones. They quickly caught what the task was about and how to use the CoMeUp app for it. They produced around 80 photos and some video and sound recordings. We all went through the collected material afterwords in class and attempted to tag some of the collected media.

Back in the classroom

Back in the classroom

A sample of the documentation

A sample of the documentation

Map view

Map view

Media view

Media view

The test with the 5 b class showed that a tool like CoMeUp is useful when small groups want to collect and handle media on their own, before making it public. In the case of media where information regarding children  is available, it makes sense to investigate such solutions and consider the role of community or group servers, where such systems could run. In this trial we used Aapo’s server, but it would be important for schools to provide their own server space. One can take the idea even further and ask would community servers be a service that municipalities or actors like Helka ry (The neighborhood association of Helsinki) could offer?