Promise Tracker is a mobile phone-based data collection system that enables communities to monitor the performance of their local governments. Using a simple web application, community groups can design a mobile phone-based survey, distribute the survey to community members’ phones, collect data using a mobile app, visualize it on a map and use the resulting data to advocate for change. Promise Tracker is designed to increase civic engagement and efficacy of community members who use it, giving them a path towards data-driven advocacy on local issues.

Idea for a research field trip…

Firstly, we could collaborate with Jamie’s group, as their project is affiliated with the strategies and aims of Promise Tracker.


Secondly, as Keir suggested, we’re going to meet up and set out to collect some research based on the people who attend the Amnesty book store on Gloucester road. Why? We’re sure people that visit the bookstore will a) know Amnesty and as a consequence, b) know politics and, potentially, c) know about campaigns, coinciding with their thoughts and views. We aim to find out whether the latter hypothesis about the Amnesty book store audience is valid.

We’ll create a survey using promise tracker, allowing the people we meet at the bookstores to fill them out as part of our research quickly and easily. This will ensure qualitative and quantitative data, meaning more insights and potential themes that can be cross hatched with our current themes, as well as ideation.

How will using Promise Tracker help?

Well, check out this case study:

Citizen sensing: Mapping data on sound levels in Boston



Over the past month, our team has been developing the first prototype for integrating low-cost mobile sensors into the Promise Tracker platform to expand the range of information that citizens can collect and map with our toolset. We are excited to work with partners at Safecast and the the Media Lab’s Responsive Environments group over the next year to explore how we can leverage hardware advances to make it possible for users to map data on environmental factors such as air quality. [SHAME APP? USERS MAP SHAMEFUL RACIST ACTS??] While we wait to get our hands on new sensors for particulate matter, ozone and methane, we decided to run our first test on something a bit easier to detect – sound levels.

Using an RFduino microcontroller and an affordable sound board, we came up with a battery-powered mobile sound pressure sensor for around $50 that can be paired via bluetooth to the Promise Tracker mobile app. Once paired, the app automatically uploads geolocated sensor data on sound pollution throughout the day. When particularly high sound levels are detected, the app will ping the user and request some contextual information such as a photo of the location, the primary source of sound (transportation, construction, etc.) and a sound sample.

Boston Soundscape Map

After carrying the sensor around Cambridge and Boston for a few days, we were able to get our first collaborative map of sound in the city along with citizen media and context.

We are excited by the possibility of incorporating sensing for sound, air quality and water quality into the core Promise Tracker platform and exploring how citizens might leverage these tools to better map and transform their cities. We’ll be continuing to test different sensors with local groups over the next months and look forward to sharing the outcomes!

How does it relate to talking to people at a bookstore?

Using Promise Tracker as a data collection tool, we could organise a list of questions easily accessible to people via their phones as part of our research. Research into the app itself is helpful in knowing how to engage communities and groups of people who acknowledge their community space.


Promise Tracker (no date) Available at: (Accessed: 16 February 2017).
Promisetracker (2015) Citizen sensing: Mapping data on sound levels in Boston. Available at: (Accessed: 16 February 2017).