This visualisation combines cycling volume and average PM2.5 data throughout the Utrecht road network. Road links with high concentrations of average PM2.5 and a high volume of cyclists results in the highest exposure rates (red). Interestingly, the analysis indicates central road links and non-central major road links such as highways exhibit higher levels of exposure among cyclists.
The concept of a smart city is not a utopian vision, it’s happening right now through an increase of IoT devices being deployed in cities. Smart cities are about data collection and planning using said data; One could imagine that collecting all sorts of data over a big urban area would be time consuming and expensive. After all, it’s not just devices you are deploying but also manpower you are using. Fortunately, there are solutions to this problem, one of them is citizen participation. This means can citizens go out and perform collection for the city. In practice, this means that an institution can hand out low-cost kits to anyone who volunteers and these volunteers go out and take measurements.
A successful example of this collaboration between institutions and private citizens is the Citizen Sense air quality project conducted in Pennsylvania. In a small fracking town in Susquehanna county, the citizens were concerned about the lack of environmental regulations and they wanted to monitor the environmental pollutants released by their industries.
Citizen Sense developed particulate matter kits with the citizens, and distributed them amongst them. Because of this, they unraveled the amount of pollutants in the air, and also the likely causes of it. Having insights like these can be of great value to local authorities, as they will have a better understanding of their area and can act accordingly to prevent future hardships.
Coming back to the opening statement, even cyclists can be scientists; SODAQ has developed a mobile air quality device that is attachable to bikes. This device, fittingly called the Snifferbike, allows for mobile and real time air quality monitoring. The data, publicly displayed by partner Civity, coupled with data from static air stations, gives greater insights into air quality and allows city planners to react accordingly. City planners can see which roads are especially polluted, probably meaning there is lots of traffic there. They can see cyclists’ behavior, deducing that certain roads might need touch ups to be safer or more desirable. The community benefits from this data too; you now know which roads to avoid if you want to stay healthy. All this in depth data that can be used to make the city safer or more eco-friendly is valuable -- Collected by citizens -- cyclists scientists.
Currently, Snifferbike is gaining international attention with units being deployed in Aalborg, Berlin and Venice. In the future, Dubai, Norway and Sweden will follow. The next product version of Snifferbike, now known as SODAQ AIR, is already designed and will hopefully soon find launching customers to finance the production, making the device available across the globe.