Digital Communities Award: Awarded for demonstrating excellence in creating and supporting communities, delivering social benefits, and fostering an open and inclusive civil society through the innovative or alternative use of digital technologies.
The Restart Project addresses the environmental costs of our linear, consumerist economy. It combines hands-on community repair engagement with the need for system change, via citizen data collection and analysis, campaigning and policy influencing at EU and national level.
Many electrical goods have short lifespans, prematurely becoming e-waste, the fastest growing waste stream in Europe, and driving the extraction of ever more raw materials to manufacture new products. Around 80% of a small electronic device’s carbon footprint is emitted before it is ever used, therefore repairing and reusing devices is essential to reduce their overall impact. This plays a key role in achieving SDG 12: sustainable consumption and production patterns.
Through Restart Parties and other repair events, volunteers help members of the public repair broken items, building community through the sharing of skills, reducing waste, and recording data about the repairs attempted. In 2017 The Restart Project co-founded the Open Repair Alliance (ORA) and created the Open Repair Data Standard (ORDS) with partners to improve the quality, consistency, and interoperability of citizen-sourced repair data from networks around the world.
Using ORDS as a foundation, Restart developed its own open source community platform, Restarters.net, to support groups across Europe and beyond in collecting data and monitoring the impact of their work. The Restart Project then actively brought entire networks of repair initiatives together to share citizen repair data from Belgium (2019), Wales (2021), Denmark (2022), and France (2023). In total, around 600 citizen scientists have now recorded over 81,000 repair attempts, which Restart periodically aggregates and publishes under an open licence.
Since 2019 Restart co-leads the European Right to Repair Campaign, a coalition of over 100 organisations demanding ambitious legislation to make repair accessible and affordable to everyone.
Citizen Science can gather new data about our world, and beyond this it also has the potential to bring together collective intelligence for new insights and impact. This potential can be reached by using digital tools to foster and support a community to share and develop questions and knowledge together. The Restart Project has been supporting the repair and reuse of technology for more than 10 years through forums, online coordination, and in-person events, with dedicated programs for digital inclusion and addressing under-represented groups. This growing and global community has gone on to not only revitalize old technology but also to provide data, and carry out research that give insights into the impact that reuse and repair has on the environment. This, in turn, plays an important role in changing policy regarding technology regulation. The jury commends the dedication to inclusion and community-making by the project, combined with the outreach to stakeholders in the policy sphere to create impact both in individuals’ lives and in international legislation.European Union Prize for Citizen Science Jury 2023 (Kat Austen, Lewis Hou, Pedro Russo, Andrea Sforzi, Stefanie Wuschitz). View full Statement here.
The Restart Project has since 2016 received key support from: the Shuttleworth Foundation; Nesta; Esmee Fairbairn Foundation; The National Lottery; Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust; and the European Union through participation in the Interreg North-West Europe project SHAREPAIR and the Horizon 2020 project ACTION (Participatory science toolkit against pollution).
The Restart Project
The Restart Project (GB) is a London-based charity fixing our relationship with electronics. By encouraging people to use their electronics longer and collecting and sharing data from community repair initiatives globally on recurrent barriers to repair, Restart pushes for legislation for the Right to Repair in the UK and across Europe. Restart was founded in 2012 as an all-volunteer project, and volunteers are still at the centre of its work. It started when the repair café movement was beginning to gain visibility. Restart decided to focus specifically on prevention of e-waste through repair, and highlighting the need for complete system change in the way we consume, design, and regulate the devices that power our digital economy. It advocates for a universal Right to Repair, requiring manufacturers of all electrical and electronic products to design for repairability, while providing access for all to repair manuals, affordable spare parts, and long-term software and security updates.
Ugo Vallauri (IT) is Co-founder and Co-Director of The Restart Project, a London-based charity fixing our relationship with electronics. By encouraging people to use their electronics longer and collecting and sharing data from community repair initiatives globally on recurrent barriers to repair, Restart pushes for legislation for the Right to repair in the UK and across Europe.