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Repair data: why community groups collect and share

Screengrab of Restarters Norway website, where they display their data

Many groups in our network are using our software to log community repair data after events. We asked some of them to tell us more about their experience with data. What motivated them to start recording data at repair events? What have they used repair data for?

Repair data is so powerful – both at a local and international level. Many groups report that data is key to motivating and educating volunteer fixers and visitors. It helps identify trends, and barriers to repair, whether they be tools, spare parts or knowledge. Showing impact through data helps with fundraising and sustaining local activity.

But the benefits don’t end at a local level. Sharing repair data contributes to a growing movement pushing for more repairable products. A number of groups reported feeling motivated to be a part of the international Right to Repair campaign. They can see that their data is contributing a much larger, powerful dataset that can convince policymakers to make it easier to use things for longer.

Read on to find out more!

Crediton Repair Cafe

Crediton Repair Cafe joined the Fixometer last year. Ian Barnard walks us through the main reasons they use their data for:

It turns “oh, we repaired 32 items last Saturday” into something more concrete related to our reduction of humanity’s impact on the environment “we saved 280Kg of CO2” and then what really matters is that this number means something to our volunteers and visitors.

Hackney Fixers

Hackney Fixers started using the Fixometer three years ago. They were already recording data in a spreadsheet at their events to measure their fix rate and performance, however they ended up uploading all of this historical info to the Fixometer as well!

We talk to James Diamond to find out more. They have used the Fixometer to monitor their own fix rate, but also to report their impact to funders.

The Fixometer added transparency and statistics, such as waste diversion and CO2 savings. We included the data in our end of grant reports as additional evidence. Our funders are interested in the data for the events they support, particularly the kg of waste prevented.

Nottingham Fixers

Nottingham Fixers joined the Fixometer in 2018. We talk to Sarah who shares with us their initial motivation to get involved with data:

We have somewhere to record the info about the electrical items we fix. It’s fantastic and motivating to tell people how much waste and carbon we’ve / they’ve saved collectively, which meets one of the central aims of our organisation. It helps us look for trends in repairs that are brought to us, we can monitor the parts we need… But also we are ‘part of something’ bigger than just our group.

They are also using data to share their carbon and waste saved on their social media channels and at meetings, and to look for trends with the numbers/types of repairs they do at events.

Repair Cafe Portsmouth

Repair Cafe Portsmouth started collecting the data on the Fixometer in 2018, motivated to see their impact in the community. For instance, they use data to let all our volunteers know after each session how much was fixed and how many items were seen by each category. A great way to motivate, we think! Beyond the community impact, this repair group were also driven by the need for policy change at national and international level. This vision is also reflected in their signing of the Manchester Declaration. Check it out if you want to know more about our shout for repairable products in the UK, or if you are a UK community repair group who would like to sign too.

As Clare describes:

We wanted to measure what we were doing locally to help with funding bids and to see what difference we were making in our community (was it worthwhile!)  We were interested in adding our data to strength the lobbying activity to get things changed nationally and on a European level.  It’s not the quickest thing to do, but we want to add to the grassroots data.

Reading Repair Cafe

Reading Repair Cafe also joined the Fixometer in 2018. Stuart tells us about the start of this repair group, which was originally an outreach activity at the Reading Hackspace, but has now “taken on a life of its own”, although still in close collaboration. We learn about their journey with data:

We originally just kept a scrap of paper during the events to log the number of repairs, and the intention was to eventually do something with this data in a spreadsheet at some point, but that never really happened. We did report the general number of repairs at each session, mainly as a gauge to how busy we were, and whether we were doing the right things to promote the event.

One of the key elements of moving forward is the demonstration of the ecological impact that we are having. And this is where the detailed data that the Fixometer gathers is vital.

Restarters Norway

Restarters Oslo started using the Fixometer in 2017. They even embed repair data, served up by the Fixometer, to their website! Kaja Ahnfelt, the founder of Restarters Norway (and Oslo) wrote her master thesis about the Restart Project and Restart Parties. Through her work she saw the importance of recording data from the parties both to demonstrate impact and for research purposes. When she then went on to take Restart Parties to Norway, she already knew the importance of the data collection, and early on implemented the Fixometer into the website to be able to demonstrate the group’s impact. Kaja Juul Skarbø, from Restarters Norway shares

Yes, we definitely find repair data useful for demonstrating impact. This includes both internally and externally: internally to motivate volunteers by showing how much the group has fixed and externally to demonstrate impact and progress. I will use the data internally to brag/motivate, for example “this spring you as a group have collectively saved the planet xx kg CO2” and externally in talks etc. As mentioned above we also value the use of data for research purposes.

We believe having an international dataset on community repair is important. Also, we often get questions such as “which repairs do you do most often” or “which repairs are difficult” etc, and ideally the data can then give good answers. The data is also useful to demonstrate how much we’re able to fix then and there (approx 50%), and how little is actually lost cases (approx 20%).

Share your repair data

Get in touch if you are a repair organisation and would like to share your own repair data with the wider repair community.

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