Citizen’s science, governance and participation

On friday June 16th the national AiREAS (air quality) citizen’s science team gathered in Eindhoven again to:

  • determine the strengthening of the local city ILM measurement network in Eindhoven,
  • share experiences throughout the Netherlands
  • citizen’s science in Rotterdam

We talked about the quality of sensor workshops in Germany, the challenges of the ILM in Eindhoven to get to robustness with citizen’s science, the engagement of new partners and the transition of experimental initiatives towards well established platforms in which we can guarantee the integral quality. All insights have been worked out into the AiREAS plan 2017 for Eindhoven in such a way that we can safely expect to expand the networks without pioniering problems throughout the regions and support governance, business development and citizen’s participation. All directed at cocreation of regional quality of life.

CITIMAP

CITIMAP NL tekening2 (2)

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Press release: NO2 sensor makes AiREAS air quality system complete

AiREAS enhances its network of AirBoxes in Eindhoven with the monitoring of traffic emissions

Petten/Eindhoven, 15 december 2014 – The network of AirBoxes with which air pollution is measured in the city of Eindhoven (Netherlands) has today been enhanced with NO2 sensors. As from now, together with fine dust and ozon, also nitrogen dioxide will be measured, a substance that is mainly emitted by traffic.

Since end 2013 Eindhoven counts 35 AirBoxen spread throughout town, measuring fine dust in different sizes (from 10 micrometer to as small as 1 micrometer) as well as concentrations of ozon. The measurements are being executed by newly developed sensors. This Innovative Air Measurement system (ILM) is co-created by the multidisciplinary cooperation AiREAS, in which, among others the local city government, the province of North-Brabant, enterprises like Philips, Imagelabonline and Imtech ICT, universities of Utrecht and Twente, the Academic Medical Centre and Energy research Centre Netherlands (ECN) participate. ECN is responsible for the development of the sensors. The design and development of a low cost but reliable and validated NO2 sensor encountered a lot of struggles but ECN managed to overcome them and created a sensor that delivers quality information. This NO2-sensor is now installed in 5 AirBoxes across the city.

Healthy city a bit closer
AiREAS wants to co-create a healthy city involving citizens and institutions together. It is important to now exactly where which concentrations of pollution occur. “When you consider the norms set for air pollution we do not perform at all that bad in the Netherlands. On national level we do well, despite some problem areas. The purpose of AiREAS however is to look beyond norms and create a healthy city. For this the situation needs to be looked at with much more precision”, explains air quaity expert Ernie Weijers of ECN. “Now that we have all components working we have a network that provides us with excellent local insight.”

With the information the local governments can take measures and do research on the effects on health, or adapt the traffic management. The data are publically available via http://www.aireas.com, allowing civilians and business enterprises to also contribute to the improvement of their living space.

According Weijers other cities can benefit from the experiences in Eindhoven. “The interest in other communities is large and we expect to expand into other cities soon.”

For more information:
For more information on the sensor technology you can contact with Bas van Bree, Environment & Energy Engineering  ECN, Tel: +31 88 5154427,Mob: +31 6 22711515, e-mail: vanbree@ecn.nl

For information on co-creating a healthy city with the AiREAS format you can contact Jean-Paul Close, Email:  jpclose@aireas.com

Start of Local AiREAS Eindhoven

History 1: Local AiREAS Eindhoven

AiREAS - Eindhoven

The first meeting of Local AiREAS Eindhoven took place at the city hall in September 2011. It was an open ended meeting where again all 4 pillars were invited. There were many people and disciplines with lots of commitment around the table. They relayed to the higher purpose of creating the healthy city of Eindhoven from an air quality point of view. But the expectation of each was still with the mentality of the old culture of financial dependencies and hierarchy.

From abstraction to concretion

Marco van Lochem and Jean-Paul Close

Marco van Lochem and Jean-Paul Close

The first multidisciplinary encounters of a Local AiREAS are chaotic, abstract and strange for all participants. Every one gets a chance to tell what brings them to the AiREAS table. Since the session is being chaired by an independent civilian all people at the table are asked to reason from equality, setting hierarchical positions and dominance aside as well as old age liability claims and reservations.

“We are here to take steps to create the first healthy city in the world and we all have valuable input to make it happen. No one is the boss, no one has the last word, we all bring in whatever we can and commit to that. If one does not have the authority to commit here at the table one should not be here”, were the words of initiator Jean-Paul Close after explaining the value driven structure of AiREAS.

The first step is to try to get a consensus around one project of common interest. The councilor commented that the city is being informed through reports of the national ministry for health and is asked to comply to norms that it cannot measure or see itself. There is little to no possibility for the local policy makers to produce their own feedback to their own actions.

Mary-Ann Schreurs (councilor, alderman) and  founder Jean-Paul Close

Mary-Ann Schreurs (councilor, alderman) and founder Jean-Paul Close

Making the invisible visible

To be able to work with air pollution and human health at citizen’s level we need to be able to measure as closely to where the citizens live and act themselves. The first project would have to make that possible. The argument that current measurement equipment was extremely expenses (about 100K€ per unit) had been an impediment before for governments to create a dense network. The challenge to produce low cost network fitted nicely with the high tech character of this city.

Three more meetings followed to further determine the desired characteristics of the system and measurement network. Key in the discussion was not just the low cost value but also the type of pollution to be measured, the intervals of measurement, the location of the equipment in the city, the communication network, database infrastructure, cross referencing with other databases, interpretation of data and presentation to the public.

The complexity was huge but perfectly possible to be dealt with because of the direct presence of knowledge. The project was lined out and valued with an investment plan. This ended up with a figure of about 1 Million euros. The government representative were involved in one of the most intense saving programs so every penny to be invested would have to be taken away from another program. This would be justifiable but not to the size of 1 Million. Concessions were made and multidisciplinary creativity finally got to the network of 32 measurement nodes to be produced by ECN of which 5 were equipped with an Ultra Fine Dust module that was handmade by Philips.

ICT experts defined the communication technology and data collection while scientists of different disciplines interacted to define the space modulation, geographical positioning of the equipment, expected potential of interpretation of the data for various health research objectives. Beginning of 2012 the project was defined, documented and commitments signed up of all the parties. The finance was established at 550K with a distribution of funding among the partners. Some offered value in hours and most physical money came from the local governance. This financial part was committed but needed still to be freed from the internal government processes and backed by the political structure of the city, the city council and all interacting internal lobbies.

The group was ready…but….