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Stakeholder Engagement For Static and Mobile Air Quality Measurements In Berlin

Updated: 4 days ago

Our citizen science in Berlin was implemented in two campaigns, one focusing on static measurements, another on mobile measurements i.e. when volunteers measure dynamic exposure to air pollution on the move.

During our research on static measurements, we came across a pilot project in Berlin-Kreuzberg (Project Graefekiez), where the capital's Senate introduced a traffic calming measure by temporarily closing streets to cars.

With the Graefekiez project already underway, we had easier access into the neighbourhood and were plugged into a larger network of mobility stakeholders. Nevertheless, recruiting citizens proved to be very difficult. Through intensive flyering, being at information booths, sending newsletters and through direct conversations in the neighbourhood, we managed to recruit eleven participants for the static measurements. These eleven participants were split between Telraam, particulate matter, and black carbon sensors; some participants even had multiple sensors. In an introductory workshop, we explained how sensors work and raised awareness about air quality and traffic in Berlin.

Participants of the static measurements introduction workshop and a subsequent deployment of the soot and fine dust sensor of a participant in Graefekiez

You can read about the results of the static campaign here.

For the mobile measurements, we and cyclists worked together to gain insights into fine dust pollution. The goal is for cyclists to measure their daily commute and find out how congested their routes are. Potential volunteers were targeted using flyers and dissemination support from initiatives in the mobility sector such as Changing Cities, through platforms like Instagram and newsletters. The response exceeded our expectations. Within a week, over 70 people expressed their interest, prompting us to close recruitment due to capacity constraints.

As with the static measurements, the introductory workshop focused on raising awareness about traffic and air quality, introducing the topic in a playful manner and also providing information about the citizen science approach. The 60 minute workshop was not enough to answer all the questions, so an additional session was organised online.

SODAQ air sensor on the bike of one participant and a workshop group on mobile measurements


After that, one more workshop took place, consisting of two parts: one session on gathered air quality data and another session on assessing behavioural change. The first part was all about the results of PM measurements, where the Berlin team and the participants examined pollution patterns, absolute and relative concentration levels (total vs. individual exposure) as well as changes before and after the workshop on lifestyle changes.

A lively discussion happened in the second part, where citizens provided their viewpoints on whether insights into their pollution exposure affected their mobility behaviour. Although all of them remained fond of their bicycles, the participants’ views diverged slightly on the topic of individual vs political responsibility - that is, who can and should do more to improve overall air quality, politicians or citizens? People who participated confirmed that they enjoyed being part of the campaign and expressed interest in collecting new data in the upcoming measurement rounds.

Podium discussion about the approach of Citizen Science in Berlin-Graefekiez

Podium discussion about the approach of Citizen Science in Berlin-Graefekiez

Since we were affiliated with the pilot project in Graefekiez for the static measurements, we organised a panel discussion to increase activities and participation in this neighbourhood. Five guests from scientific institutions and two citizen scientists from the static and mobile measurements from COMPAIR spoke on the podium on the topic of citizen science.

The COMPAIR team worked with numerous actors to recruit participants for our citizen science in Berlin. For the static measurements, we went to plenary sessions and network meetings to a) promote participation opportunities and b) understand what exactly is happening in the neighbourhood so as to keep abreast of the latest developments in the area. In the mobile campaign, we benefited from access to members and were invited to speak at events to report our results all thanks to cooperation with cycling and other initiatives.

All in all, the success of stakeholder engagement is due in no small part to partnerships we have built with multiple stakeholders during the course of our citizen science in Berlin. These include: Changing Cities, Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club (ADFC, eng. German National Cyclists' Association) Berlin, Respect cyclists, VCD, Paper planes, WZB, Projekt Graefekiez.

The main lessons and recommendations regarding stakeholder engagement are:

1) Involve local community centres earlier and more thoroughly. Openly communicate your needs and ascertain their requirements to get meaningful support. Involve them in the design of experiments, some 2-3 months before campaign kick-off.

2) Organise joint events with local initiatives for better outreach.

3) Workshop presentations are necessary, but more emphasis should be placed on participants trying out the tech/devices. Allocate enough time for this kind of testing during workshops.



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