A recent Eurobarometer survey (published in October 2022) shows that many Europeans are worried about air pollution, with nearly half of the respondents saying they believe air quality got worse in the last decade. The findings were released on the same day the Commission proposed new rules for cleaner air and water. New legislation will support local authorities by strengthening the provisions on air quality monitoring, modelling, and improved air quality plans.
As a project that cares about air quality in cities, we decided to go to Barcelona for the Smart City Expo World Congress to share our views on the problem and how it can be tackled with better monitoring capabilities afforded by citizen science.
COMPAIR at the European Smart Cities & Communities stand
Our main message at #SCEWC22 was that citizen science has enormous potential to be a powerful driving force behind the green and just transition, primarily by creating a space where local actors can use new data insights to work collaboratively on one of the most pressing urban issues that is air pollution.
During networking and at a special panel on ‘usable data for cities’ organised at the Commission booth, COMPAIR team demonstrated how a combination of Living Lab methodologies, co-design approaches, low-cost sensing devices and advanced analytical tools (e.g. AR, simulation dashboards) can produce a well-rounded knowledge of impact that human and industrial activities have on health, environment and climate. Thanks to special calibration algorithms designed by COMPAIR to improve data quality, citizen science data can be leveraged by policy makers, industry and communities to drive change in policies and behaviour across Europe, leading to better air quality for all while also supporting the decarbonisation agenda.
After spending three days at the world’s largest smart city event, here’s a round-up of the main takeaways.
Data is a solution but…: Cities continue to see data as a key ingredient of better-informed decision making, even though they are often confronted with the problem of too much data (the so-called data tsunami challenge) or too little data caused by departmental silos, underdeveloped data sharing culture, and a limited number of data collection tools.
Conspicuous by its absence: Somewhat surprisingly, Citizen science did not feature prominently in this year’s edition. There were no special talks or side events dedicated to citizen science. Commercial air quality sensors were on display at several stands on the exhibition floor, but with a price tag of more than 1000 euros per device, they don’t exactly fall into the low-cost category.
EU team in the vanguard: The main champions of citizen science at #SCEWC22 were COMPAIR and several other European projects that had a joint presence at the EC booth. Throughout the event the projects highlighted the potential of citizen science to help cities fill data gaps by establishing a network of low-cost sensing devices that can produce policy-ready data that meets the necessary monitoring/quality standards.
Chances are that we will be going to Barcelona again next year, perhaps with a workshop or a speech/panel on the main podium (call opening soon). If you would like to collaborate on #SCEWC23 or any other future events, drop us a line here.