RCA x OPPO Winner

In Collaboration with
Marco Da Re
Arnau Donate Duch

/ Citizen Science
/ Climate Crisis

Citizen-centered system tracking environmental change through everyday phone images

In 2020 humanity produced 1.4 trillion images. C-Earth allows us to give a second purpose to these images we take every day with our phones, and aims to increase awareness while building a database to monitor the individual tree growth curve over the years.

Defining C-Earth
How might we fight climate change, while empowering citizens and helping scientists and policymakers to make informed decisions?

'We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it. However, humanity lacks to understand of the far distant intangible concept of climate change.

The system selects the pictures with visible trees and analyses their features - such as the diameter at breast height (DBH), the species, and its environmental conditions, including soil condition and light exposure. With this ground-based data, C-Earth builds a database able to monitor individual tree growth curves over the span of years, and to therefore predict its CO2 capture - keeping stakeholders accountable with accurate and visible data. By doing so, the efficiency of tree planting projects can be increased, thus optimising their carbon capture.

System Flow. Citizens track the trees and their environments. The collected data then is shared amongst scientists who lack the detailed accurate environmental data. The same data is processed in the system and shared with tree planting organizations as well as governments for better tree- planting practises and CO2 offsetting practises.

Defining Problem & Opportunity
The carbon emissions must not be only reduced. Instead, carbon should be removed from the atmosphere.
Although countries across the world agreed to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, we know that this will not be enough.

Using the images we take every day as a resource.
In 2020 humanity produced 1.436 trillion pictures. ‘C-Earth’ is a system that allows us to give a second purpose to images we take every day with our phones.

Democratise climate change monitoring and information through smartphones.
There are 6.4 Billion smartphone users globally, around 80% of the world’s population. Each of these devices is a powerful tool for us to collect images, those already taken and those that will be taken over the years.

Empowering Citizens to play a vital role in Climate Change.
We envision this system to be integrated into everyone's phone without downloading an app, so we enable citizens to understand the climate crisis in their own hyperlocal environments and empower them to have an effortless yet tangible impact by simply taking images of their surroundings.

C-Earth interfaces. The system is embedded in the phone’s OS camera and can be activated upon permission of the user. The citizen may get notified if in a hotspot to take a picture and share with the system. The image will go through an AI filter and if suitable for the database, it will be stored in the cloud with its database. Over time, the collected images will allow us to detect the environmental change more precisely and accurately.

Starting as a conceptual project from an open brief of RCA x OPPO ‘Design for New Extraordinary’ Challenge, we have developed and iterated C-Earth for nine months, becoming a winning project of the challenge, a second stage finalist for Terra Carta and exhibiting at London Design Festival.

Process Highlights

Defining Focus and System
Starting from a large problem of climate change, we had numerous discussions with scientists to find the biggest need in environmental tracking and develop C-Earth’s system.

Involving Citizens
As a citizen-centered sysem, we asked citizens to share images they took with their phones. We collected 100+ images to evaluate the tree visibility and the impact of our system.

C-Earth is a collective system, thriving upon partnerships with research institutions, agencies, private and public organizations along our stakeholders. 

Feature /Exhibition
The project was exhibited at

-> London Design Festival, Brompton Design District from 18th till 26th September 2021,
-> the Spring Show at Imperial College London from 25th February till 8th March 2022.

︎︎︎RCA x OPPO 2021
︎︎︎Interview, ‘Doğadaki Değişimin İzini Süren Proje: C-Earth’
︎︎︎OPPO, The New Extraordinary

Big thanks to our tutors Alon Meron, Simon Kinneir, Joe Richards for their help and support. Special thanks to Dr Yves Plancherel at Imperial Grantham Institute for sharing his expertise and Terra Carta tutors to further develop our project.