Civic Participation in the Datafied Society| Another Infrastructure Is Possible: Grassroots Citizen Sensing and Environmental Data Justice in Colombia

Carlos Barreneche, Andres Lombana-Bermudez


The world distribution of air pollution is deeply asymmetrical, disproportionately affecting cities in the Global South. One of the main obstacles to accessing environmental justice in Latin America is that citizens lack enough evidence in the form of environmental data. In addition, there is distrust in public data and the institutions that manage them. In this context, this article considers air quality–sensing infrastructures as objects of public deliberation and contestation. We follow a grassroots citizen sensing project in Colombia to analyze how through building alternative community infrastructures, and bringing together citizen science and proactive activism repertoires, people instigated public discussion on environmental governance and influenced change in air quality standards. The case shows the potential of mobilizing citizen-generated data for advancing environmental data justice in contexts characterized by deep structural inequalities, “data corruption,” and precarious infrastructure.


citizen science, data activism, citizen sensing, environmental data justice, critical data studies

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