Sensing for Justice - SensJus

Sensing for Justice - SensJus

Anna Berti Suman
Digital Economy Unit


The Sensing for Justice - SensJus project researches how people (‘civic sentinels’) use monitoring technologies or their senses to gather evidence of environmental issues (‘civic environmental monitoring’). 

We explore whether and how civic environmental monitoring can be an effective new way to find evidence about environmental wrong-doings and to leverage this evidence in different institutional fora, such as in courts and for conflict mediation.

The project SensJus received the support of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship n. 891513, awarded to Anna Berti Suman under H2020-EU. The project was hosted at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, Digital Economy Unit, Ispra, Italy, with the supervision of Project Leader, Sven Schade. The project funding is currently over, but scientific and civic engagement activities continue.

Participation Spectrum

When and Where

Start Year

Policy Context

Policy Stage
Context of activity
Specific Topic
Justice and rights


Other participants
Communities or representatives involved
Environmental activists
Communities affected by an environmental harms
Civic monitoring communities
Scientists and legal experts supporting such communities
How were the Participants selected?
Through what means citizens knew about the call for participation?
From the dedicated section on our webpage, i.e., and from our social media; from our strategic presence in civil society spaces and events.


Methodology description
The research combines legal, case-law and scientific literature review with ‘slow’ ethnography, deploying field research on selected case studies, and embracing art-based research methods ('research creation' approaches).
The work engages with a multitude of relevant actors, from the civic sentinels to legal practitioners to enforcement agencies, using experimental dissemination methods such as graphic novels and story-telling.


Main Outcomes and Lasting Achievement
SensJus was European Ombudsman Award for Good Administration Nominee. The project received a number of Honorary Mentions: at the EU Citizen Science Prize; STARTS Prize for Science, Technology & the Arts; and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Social Impact Award. SensJus also received the ‘Falling Walls’ Award for the Science Engagement Breakthrough of the Year 2022.


Lessons Learn
→ Civic monitoring is a powerful source of evidence for environmental law enforcement, and we need to gather first-hand stories directly from the communities at the frontline of environmental issues.
→ Action in court through evidence gathered by ordinary people can signal unaddressed demands and distrust towards institutions and companies, and these feelings should be channeled and gathered through appropriate engagement strategies;
→ Civic monitoring is contributing to the provision of public services, and therefore recognition is key including in designing participatory processes.
→ Embracing civic monitoring practices through well-thought co-design approaches is an opportunity for institutions to cooperate on a matter of concern and innovate governmental response
→ Performing civic environmental monitoring should be recognised as a rightful contribution to environmental law enforcement and to the gathering and provision of environmental information; this recognition should motivate further engagement.
→ Engagement methods based on artistic practices ('research creation') can ensure a diversified and sustained participation to the process from multiple stakeholders.