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Inclusive, Policy Relevant Citizen Science for Smart Cities: Lessons Learned and Good Practices from 5 CS Labs

Citizen science – the involvement of the public in scientific research – is a form of social innovation where the power of the crowd is used to provide new insights and solutions to existing problems.

In an urban setting, citizen science has been used for a variety of purposes, including to monitor environmental conditions such as air pollution and greenhouse gases.

On 8 May 2024 COMPAIR organised a webinar to spotlight local efforts in addressing these challenges on the example of five Citizen Science Labs established in Athens, Berlin, Flanders, Plovdiv, and Sofia.

COMPAIR use cases illustrate how a combination of inclusive stakeholder engagement and policy dialogue can turn citizen science into a powerful driver of change in policies and lifestyles.


The Athens Citizen Science Lab is working with local residents to measure air quality in two inner-city neighbourhoods: Kipseli and Neos Kosmos. Participants are mostly senior citizens recruited through Friendship Clubs, recreational centers established by the City of Athens. Concern about air pollution and its impact on health was their main motivation to join the measurement campaign.


The Berlin Citizen Science Lab completed two campaigns. The first one measured air quality in the Kreuzberg district with the help of local residents. The second campaign involved cyclists to measure dynamic exposure to air pollution when people were on the move. The results show that data from citizen science sensors is broadly in line with official measurements provided by the local reference stations.


The Flanders Citizen Science Lab spans several Flemish cities. The presentation focuses on activities in Herzele, where residents used traffic counters to help the local authority evaluate the impact of a school street, and in Sint-Niklaas, where citizen scientists monitored changes in traffic caused by the new mobility plan (30km/h speed limit) and the opening of a new cycling bridge.


The Plovdiv Citizen Science Lab is raising awareness about the impact of traffic on air pollution and on the seasonal variation of fine dust (PM10) among students and vulnerable residents. To this end, areas near two schools - Dimitar Talev and Vasil Levski - were selected for the measurement campaign. In the Dimitar Talev school, a mobile laboratory was placed in the courtyard, equipped with PM and NO2 sensors. Air quality near the Vasil Levski school was measured by placing sensors in the homes of local residents, including the elderly.


The Sofia Citizen Science Lab is working with schools, kindergartens and Roma charities to raise awareness about air pollution and its harmful effects among students, parents and marginalised groups. The activities, which are taking place in Sofia’s inner city areas as well as the Mladost district, a suburb, are contributing to the implementation of LEZ and a new school-bus service.



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