We want to share our learnings and good practices with other teams that (plan to) operate mobile makerspaces. We have developed a checklist for ourselves, which is a continuous work in progress and does not claim to be exhaustive or applicable to each and any mobile makerspace project. But we wish we had had something like it when the Tolocar project started!
Therefore, we share our checklist here and also online as a living open source document, so anyone can easily adapt it to their needs, add to it, and join the discussion.
“If anybody will build a Tolocar for any country, any region, any task: They should not try to build the perfect Tolocar, but build a baseline Tolocar, and leave some budget for the operators to get exactly the tools that they need for what they will do.” Denys Kvasov
Team[edit | edit source]
Recruiting[edit | edit source]
Prepare a job description for recruiting, including necessary driver's licenses and technical skills.
Explicitly offer specific skills training on the job.
Prioritize soft and communication skills, an open and solution-oriented mindset over technical expertise.
Consciously reflect on the diversity of your team – which groups are represented, which are not? Is that intentional, and if not: what can you do to become a more diverse team, and thus develop more inclusive solutions? 
Onboarding[edit | edit source]
Draft contracts for different roles, in accordance with all applicable laws.
Prepare an onboarding package:
- Project Description, including objectives, indicators, and limits.
- Introduction to all tooling, e.g., database, team communication channels.
- Reporting Guidelines: internal reporting vs. reporting to partners vs. reporting to the funder vs. reporting to the public via (social) media and events.
- Templates of all paperwork in all necessary languages (in our case: Ukrainian, German, and English), e.g., Time Sheets, Handover Protocols, Participation Sheets, Transfer Agreements for photo, video, and audio material.
Conduct internal onboarding sessions, pair experienced team members with new ones.
Locally Distributed Operations[edit | edit source]
Create a connection between the back office and operator teams through informal “All Hands” meetings, in addition to internal sessions for operational planning, knowledge exchange, and process improvements.
Have a Code of Conduct.
Community Engagement and Collaboration: Co-create and constantly iterate your team’s strategies for building relationships with local communities and partners, fostering collaborations, and effectively sharing knowledge and skills.
Working with communities[edit | edit source]
Understand the context of the respective community.
Learn about the innovation ecosystem and get in touch with local hubs, makerspaces and innovators.
Build on local resources and cultural strengths.
[edit | edit source]
Reserve ample time for learning and sharing within the team, as well as with users and partners (e.g. feedback rounds at the end of an activity, regular retrospective meetings).
Contact others to share your experiences and learn from theirs.
Re-use open resources and designs.
Contribute and upload your own solutions to open source repositories (e.g. Appropedia, GitHub).
Safety and Security[edit | edit source]
Always prioritize the safety of your team and partners! If you are required to work with external service providers to ensure any of the points below, budget for it.
Develop a system to ensure safety.
Create emergency procedures, e.g., for fire, natural disasters, and in our case: war.
Create safety protocols for machine usage.
Facilitate internal trainings to ensure everyone knows how to act in cases of emergency, administer first aid, and handle tools and machinery safely.
Remember that psychological safety is as important asphysical safety! Create space and time for mental health, if necessary: budget for external support. In Ukraine to date, burnout and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are the biggest threats to mental health among civil society actors.
Reporting, Monitoring and Evaluation[edit | edit source]
Monitoring and evaluation informs management decisions on all levels: within operator teams, partner organizations, and the overall Tolocar project.
Define the frequency and format of internal monitoring and evaluation. Determine who will be responsible for compiling and distributing these reports. Use these reports as a basis for collaborative learning and sharing.
Outline reporting requirements for partners or collaborating organizations.
Specify reporting obligations for project funders.
Plan to share updates with the wider public through media channels, social media, or events. Public reporting can help raise awareness about the project and its impact.
Feedback and Learning: Encourage a learning-oriented approach to reporting, where insights and feedback from reports are used to improve project strategies and outcomes.
Address data privacy concerns and obtain consent from participants if data or media which feature them will be used in the reports.
Co-create and iterate a plan to track project progress and measure its impact. Define the data collection methods and metrics for evaluating the project's success. Establish clear indicators.
Administration[edit | edit source]
Familiarize yourself with all procedures (in our case: customs, temporary import of vehicles, tools and machines, visa for foreign nationals).
Prepare all necessary paperwork and make sure copies or originals are in the vehicle. In our case, this includes:
- Vehicle registration documents.
- Equipment warranty documents
- For passing checkpoints: A letter from HIWW and GIZ that explains why Ukrainian operators (stating the names of the team members) are driving a vehicle with German number plates.
- Prepare handover documents.
Vehicles[edit | edit source]
Designing the vehicles[edit | edit source]
Choose the machines and tools for your vehicles based on the needs of your partners and your project goals.
Choose open source machines whenever you can. They are easier to maintain by yourself, and can be replicated in workshops with partners.
Aim to keep the center of gravity as centered and low as possible – this will significantly improve stability of the vehicle.
Ensure internet connectivity and self-sufficient power supply.
Consider climate conditions: Use appropriate materials, insulate the vehicle before you outfit the mobile workshop, and if you operate in cold/hot climates: add a diesel-powered heater and/or air conditioning.
Make sure that the software you need to run the machines is installed, updated, and running on dedicated appropriately-specced computers.
Install an alarm and remote monitoring system of the vehicle as it is a high-value target for thieves.
Using the vehicles[edit | edit source]
Always maintain the vehicle and all machines, tools and equipment so they stay in top condition.
Consider external conditions when planning interventions, e.g. road conditions, safety concerns, availability of fuel.
Have at least two keys per vehicle, and never store them in the same place.
Store your vehicle toolkit separately from other tools formeasy access when needed.
Have all machine manuals with you in print, in case you have no internet connection when you have to fix something.