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Empowering citizens to collectively tackle air pollution

hackAIR is a citizen science platform which offers users a map-based interface for open and crowdsourced data on the air quality in their neighbourhood. Users can build their own air quality sensors to monitor the air quality and contribute to the hackAIR community, or they can take photos of the sky using the hackAIR app and have a rough estimate of the air pollution levels.

Air pollution is an environmental issue with serious health and lifespan implications. However, it remains difficult for citizens to assess their exposure to air pollution and air quality issues in their country.

The gaps between official air quality sensors are sometimes significant, coverage is poor outside cities, and their data is not always easily accessible.

The hackAIR is a location-based and real-time service, offering users a map-based interface to the data available on the air quality in their neighbourhood. With that information, they can find areas with clean air for relaxation and sports, and which areas to avoid because of high pollution levels.

Citizens with concerns over air pollution can also use the platform to get better informed and involved in the discourse to improve air quality, locally and on a larger scale. hackAIR also enables communities of citizens to easily set up air quality monitoring networks and engage their members in measuring and publishing outdoor air pollution levels, leveraging the power of online social networks, mobile and open hardware technologies, and engagement strategies.

hackAIR offers four ways for users to contribute their own air quality data:

  1. They can submit photos of the sky using the hackAIR app. An algorithm gives a rough estimate of air pollution levels.
  2. They can build a simple cardboard sensor that uses the discoloration of petroleum jelly to get an estimate of the amount of particulate matter pollution.
  3. hackAIR provides manuals and workshops to build stationary and portable microcomputer air quality sensors. These sensors are cheap, easy-to-build and provide high-quality data.
  4. Experienced users can submit and access data using an online application programme interface (API).

In the coming months, hackAIR is organising a series of workshops in the pilot countries Germany, Norway, Greece and Belgium to raise awareness and train people on air quality, how to build sensors, and how to use the resulting information.

This is why hackAIR aims to raise collective awareness about the daily levels of human exposure to air pollution. It enables citizens and organisations to easily engage in generating and publishing information relevant to outdoor air pollution, raising collective awareness about the daily levels of human exposure to air pollution. The hackAIR platform is composed of a website and a complementary mobile application that provides citizens with improved information about air pollution levels where they live.

hackAIR is an EU-Funded CAPS project implemented by a consortium of six partners from Greece, Norway, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Case study date: April 2018.



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