ASSIST project has been presented at ENGAGER training school. ENGAGER is a COST Action (CA16232) European Energy Poverty: Agenda Co-Creation and Knowledge Innovation (ENGAGER). The training school entitled Mobilising data for Energy Poverty Research and Action aimed to develop skills for mapping, evaluating and making use of unconventional, unstructured data sources; and to provide tools for realising the potential of untapped data for enhanced energy poverty research, communication and action.
For a long time, energy poverty research has revolved around quantification methodologies and indicators. Metrics have been and still are instrumental for the societal and institutional recognition of energy poverty. They bring issues of domestic energy deprivation to the fore and, as evidenced by the history of official fuel poverty indicators in the UK, shape public debates and policy action. In the EU, the European Energy Poverty Observatory (EPOV) is laying the groundwork for common measurement frameworks in response to EU legislation that will soon introduce an obligation for Member States to report periodically on national energy poverty rates. The institutionalisation of selected indicators has occurred in parallel to the multiplication of alternative measuring approaches, often critical of and conflicting with each other. All these efforts have mostly relied on national statistical data sources such as the Household Budget Survey or the Income and Living Conditions Survey that offer solidly built samples of representative data at the EU, national and sub-national scales.
Indicators have fuelled collective action around issues of affordable energy, energy injustice, right to energy and other sources of grievances and discontent related to inadequate access to domestic energy services. Activists and civil society organisations often rely on available energy poverty metrics to support their claims and demands. But they also engage in the collection of own data to fill the gaps in available statistics, better understand local realities or shed light on matters that have not been identified as relevant by researchers and statistical offices. The result is a myriad of unconventional data sources, much of which still lies scattered and unrecognised. Often compiled through purposive sampling strategies, these datasets do not always comply with random sampling and statistical representativeness criteria. Yet in absence of other sources they are the only available way to inform about unrecognised issues that they illustrate with an unparalleled level of actuality and realism. All these often unmapped and untapped sources of information have a considerable potential for communication purposes, for sparking public dialogue and for leveraging renovated public energy poverty action. They connect with new research approaches such as scientific crowdsourcing and citizen science aimed at more participatory, democratic forms of knowledge co-production.
ASSIST project in general and the experience of the ASSIST pilots in Barcelona were presented on Thursday 6th June 2019. It was an interesting combination of European programmes as H2020 and COST action shared interests a challenges around energy poverty in Europe.