Skip to main content

Collective Awareness Platform for Tropospheric Ozone Pollution

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CAPTOR (Collective Awareness Platform for Tropospheric Ozone Pollution)

Reporting period: 2017-07-01 to 2018-12-31

Air pollution is the environmental topic that European citizens worry about most. It is responsible for 400.00 premature deaths in Europe each year, damages agricultural crops and forests, and its effects result in actual losses for the European economy -estimated costs for Europe between €59 and €189 billion in 2012 -, threating human well-being and natural systems that sustain our prosperity. CAPTOR address the general air pollution problem, which will be depicted by monitoring specifically the tropospheric ozone.
Current top-down efforts have obviously increased awareness among citizens about the dangers of polluted air, but despite all this efforts real affection and behavioural change, taking ownership and responsibility, cannot be found on large scale. Europeans are worried about the general state of the environment but their readiness to take action themselves when it comes to tackling environmental challenges is limited. Moreover, decision makers are often reluctant to put the necessary emphasis on the dangers involved with high air pollution levels, because the primary source - that could be quite easily reduced - is the individual traffic. Reducing the individual traffic is known to be a very difficult political task and is not at all popular with the voters.
Captor proposes a bottom-up approach to demonstrate the power of Collective Awareness Platforms (CAPs) to foster collaboration of local communities, citizens, NGOs, and scientists to raise awareness and find solutions to the air pollution problem. The combination of citizen science, collaborative networks and environmental grassroots social activism will drive the whole process and will have a high potential impact on other fields such as education, social innovation, science, environment, politics and industry (see figure 1). Captor will establish a monitoring network made of low-cost sensors to measure ozone pollution in affected areas and to use collaborative learning tools to stimulate collaborative solution finding.
Captor's concrete objectives are:
• To engage a network of local communities in three citizen science instantiations for monitoring a specific air pollutant - tropospheric ozone.
• To engage these local communities in a collaborative learning process about air pollution, supporting a bottom-up process of defining and designing measures for action. This will demonstrate the effectiveness of a model of social innovation strategy based on a CAP to leverage the collective intelligence of existing networks of local communities.
• To empower citizens and engage them in promoting behavioural changes and active participation in decision making to drive solutions. The project will stimulate discussion of local communities involved in the project with different stakeholders – energy and transport industries, local administrations, scientists, academia and innovators - to promote best practices and advocate plans to control and reduce air pollution.
• To learn and to assess the effectiveness, replicability and creative power of the approach. The project will provide evidence of its impact and derive lessons learned for similar initiatives.
WP1. Establishment of the general management structure and quality assurance process and plans for innovation management, RRI compliance and risk management. Proactive communication with other projects.
WP2. Development of all the required IT tools. Nodes were designed and tested. 30 CAPTOR nodes (2016), 35 CAPTOR and 30 RAPTOR (2017) and 35 CAPTOR and 27 RAPTOR (2018).
WP3. Criteria for selecting the placement of nodes in order to have representative results regarding ozone concentrations were established. A number of tools for assessing the accuracy of the obtained measures and for an early identification of nodes with low performance were also developed. During the second reporting period maintenance of the CommSensum platform to store data collected by CAPTOR/RAPTOR nodes and of the rest of CAPTOR IT tools (including CaptorAir and AirA) were carried out. Also, an analysis and validation of the data flows collected from the assembled nodes and of the AirAct and the CAPTORAir mobile apps was also performed.
WP4. Establishment of an engagement and monitoring strategy. Volunteers participated in the design of the IT tools, and have tested their functionalities. Activities for the engagement of local citizens and communities in citizen science issues and in the monitoring activities. Involvement and engagement of citizens, local communities and local groups (from the three countries related to the proposed testbeds) in monitoring air quality to raise their awareness concerning the problem of tropospheric ozone.
WP5. The evaluation of the CAPTOR's user involvement activities in the three testbed regions (in Austria, Italy, Spain) provided us with insights about the usefulness and impact of the CAPTOR approach, which combined citizen science activities with grass roots activism to create awareness for the ozone pollution problem.
WP6. Establishment of communication and dissemination plan. Website content was translated into 5 languages. A considerable attention in the press, radio and TV, twitter and youtube has been attracted. The project has been also very active in addressing politic authorities at several levels.
WP7. Elaboration of an extended sustainability plan. Participation in several events to explain the project’s approach and preliminary results, to attract potential local stakeholders and to promote and facilitate network activities towards empowerment purposes. Creation of a list of stakeholder contacts, sorted by sector, country and field of interest. Offsprings projects were selected and will receive active support from the CAPTOR project through all their deployment phases.
The CAPTOR platform created a number of IT tools that are openly available:
• A network of Do It Yourself (DIY) monitoring nodes using low-cost ozone sensors. The Raptor platform was implemented by UCA, France. Captor nodes were built by UPC, Spain, following the DIY philosophy.
• An open data repository to share the collected data; a mobile app;
• A collaborative learning platform;
• CaptorAir, a web application similar to AirAct but only shows data from CAPTOR testbed nodes;
• AirAct, a web application that displays pollution data taken from reference stations published by the European Environmental Agency (EEA).
The collaborative monitoring of air pollution data in CAPTOR resulted in highly relevant insights about the effectiveness of this bottom-up approach.
The local measurement data collected by citizens gave visibility to an invisible pollutant, making it real and tangible.
One of the main research challenges in CAPTOR was to guarantee the high quality of the resulting air quality measurements.
The active involvement in measurement increased citizens’ knowledge on ozone and gave them the feeling of taking a more active role and responsibility for what happens in their regions and with the air they breath.
The involvement of NGOs and social scientists ensured optimal dissemination and communication of the project’s outcomes and messages.
The project achieved a significant impact on the media and contributed to an increased awareness on this environmental problem, in CAPTOR’s study regions.
Several organizations showed their interest in replicating this experience.