Public data donation

Data collection and visualziations by citizens regarding their well-being

(Action) research

What if we would facilitate citizens to define research questions and collect and visualize data (on well-being) themselves?

Informed by our ambition to empower citizens with regard to their own and collective well-being, we established a research collective with people from the Rotterdam Afrikaanderwijk and Vreewijk Cooperatives to work on the following challenge:

To develop and test of a method, collective and platform for local residents to collect and visualize health and welfare-related data - on their own initiative and their own terms, under their own governance, and with the support of professionals - to explore how they could use these, and how they could potentially generate value for them.


Story telling

In order to define the questions for their actual research, we asked participants to share among the collective their personal well-fare related stories. We mapped highlights and themes on a value-map, based on the principle of ‘positive health,’ which taught us that, rather than emphasizing health-related issues, participants highlighted aspects of how local initiatives, social networks and ervaringsdeskundigen (experts by experience) contributed to their recovery and resilience.

The collective defined 3 urgencies that the collective defined with regard to well-being:

  1. In our opinion, more 'humanity' and stronger local networks are essential for our health and well-being.
  2. Negative effects of our physical and social environment on our health and well-being should be reduced; positive ones should be reinforced.
  3. Reduction of barriers: Facilities that are available for our health and well-being should be more accessible to everyone.

Probe kits

We developed probe-kits that participants could use to Take and annotated pictures of physical spaces and social situations that positively or negatively contributed to their well-being (photo-mapping; photo voice) Record formal aspects as well as associated emotions of various aspect of their (customer) journeys to organize support regarding their or others’ well-being.

(Co-creative) designs

Human aspects of well-being

Participants’ research into the ‘human’ aspects of health and well-being taught us that they feel more heard and helped by 'local organizations' and ervaringsdeskundigen (experts by experience' or so called 'neutral' persons’) than formal by formal institutions and professionals. They prefer their accessibility. In the following map they demonstrate the holistic approach that is being used by Trefpunt by ervaringsdeskundigen and volunteers to provide aid and support for neighbours in debts.

Physical and social aspects of well-being

Participants mapped pictures and identified places on a map to express the physical and social aspects of their well-being. From associated stories we deducted how some of our fellow researchers longed for soothing and low-stimulus places to recover from stress; how others knew the exact places where to get free food and coffee as well as company to provide support in dealing with institutions; and strikingly, a bustling shopping street with squares and benches was for one participant a place to chill and hang with friends; for another the place indicated the starting point for a career in the informal economy. He made the following map, from which we see how this sometimes brought him quite some money, which he sometimes lost to ‘competitors,’ while he always felt stressed (to get ripped when he was wealthy; and to survive and when he was homeless and in debt), leading to a psychosis.


Based on her touching, Alejandra made the following visualization to demonstrate the (recurring) efforts and emotions of one of the participants to get prescription medicines for her husband, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease.


  • The research thus far has provided members of the collective themselves as well professional researchers, civil servants and medical professional with telling stories and visuals on how some Rotterdammers struggle to get response, support, and justice regarding their concerns, and how they manage to find ‘buddies’ and alternative routes to serve their interests.
  • Participants valued the time they allowed themselves to tell, discuss and visualize their experiences and how they were valued by others, and how they learned from others as well. They grew as a collective, who regularly share insights, ideas, relevant articles and sources as well as funny pictures way beyond ‘research hours.’
  • Participants gained self-confidence and self-esteem for the fact that their stories (data) proved to be valuable.
  • In the coming period the research collective is going to investigate the costs for formal professionals and formal institutions as compared to the value generated by informally organizing support for neighbours. The Ombudsman of the municipality of Rotterdam showed interest in such data and related visualizations in order to make a case for allowing citizens more ownership and zeggenschap.
  • Various members of the collective are inclined to try and help their ‘colleague’ Maria to find a space to comfortably chill with her autistic child.


In this project we worked in close collaboration with:

This project was funded by: