Physical sciences, Earth sciences

Citizens to monitor air quality

An EU team is developing an air quality monitoring hardware system for public use. After developing case studies for numerous European cities, the team designed, then built and tested sensor and communication modules, including software.

Ultimately, the success of air quality and climate change ventures will depend on citizen involvement. Currently, however, the sources of information can often be too variable or unreliable.

Hence, the EU-funded CITI-SENSE (Development of sensor-based citizens' observatory community for improving quality of life in cities) project aims to develop an environmental monitoring information system for citizen use. The purpose is to empower communities to influence policy and decision-making processes. The initial focus is air quality, with subsequent expansion likely. Atmospheric information was drawn from satellite data, yet locally specific to various European cities. The consortium also planned to develop participatory methods, data management strategies and applications to facilitate data utilisation.

Work during the project's first 18 months focused on developing pilot case studies. The studies involved planning, implementation and development of assessment methods.

Preliminary phases involved developing requirements and protocols for sensors and communication hardware. The team also established dialogue with stakeholder groups, including schools.

Applying the case studies, the team installed hardware devices at nine European locations. The stage also involved testing and establishment of stakeholder dialogues. Most locations received static sensor platforms, while Barcelona also received prototype mobile nodes. Static and mobile nodes were tested on-site in terms of air quality monitoring and communication functionality. Further testing is ongoing.

The team established a central web portal, serving as a gateway to the 13 case-study Citizen Observatory portals. The group also produced sensor kits for distribution, operation manuals, and appropriate software applications allowing easy use, Apps included prototypes for mobile devices which measure UV load and environmental comfort. Additionally, the work yielded common web portals for five further FP7 Citizen Observatory projects.

CITI-SENSE outcomes will be environmental monitoring systems around Europe, which foster citizen participation in environmental governance. Such results are also expected to offer new products and services, meaning economic opportunity for European business.

Source: © European Union, CORDIS, www.cordis.europa.eu
last modification: 2016-02-08 09:32:22