Data Canvas: Sense Your City

To empower citizens to sense and make sense of their environment, we deployed a DIY sensor network over 7 cities to measure pollution, dust, light, sound, temperature, and humidity. We created an interactive map to stream the live open data, and asked the community to tell visual stories with it.

Over the course of four months across Rio de Janiero, San Francisco, Boston, Bangalore, Singapore, Shanghai and Geneva, more than 700 people contributed to our workshops and events. 100 Participants built an open, Do-it-Yourself environmental sensor network and deployed it on their residences, offices, universities and hackerspaces.

See the live data Map HERE.

Building Independent, Open and Participative Sensing Networks to Understand Our Changing Cities


  • 98 citizens assembled and deployed sensors on their residences, offices, universities and local hackerspaces, and 340 people exchanged ideas online.
Open Data
  • Explore the interactive map that allows you to see the sensor data in real-time, connect to the API, and download the data to get your hands dirty.
  • Use the data provided by our DIY sensor network, combine it with interesting publicly available data, and tell a your story about cities. Visualize it, sonify it, gamify it.



swissnex San Francisco, Lift Conferences, Seeed Studio


Data Canvas: Sense Your City is made possible with the generous support of Obscura Digital, City of Geneva, Prohelvetia Council, HEAD.

Data Canvas:

Data Canvas is a partnership between Gray Area, swissnex San Francisco, and Lift Conference.

The first edition of Data Canvas was launched as an international online challenge in 2013 to create innovative visualizations by using public transportation data sets from the cities of San Francisco, Zurich and Geneva, with the goal of strengthening the global open data movement, and engaging governments and citizens around urban questions using data. Since then we have developed the Data Canvas into a media network, online and offline, that promotes public education around civic issues, using data. Our research around public private initiatives in using data results in events, data visualization challenges, and workshops with partners around the world.