Air Quality pilot with Nazka

Pilot in Mechelen

 

How can we monitor and improve air quality in our cities using open data?

QUICK FACTS

  • Project: Air quality
  • Location: Mechelen, in Belgium, with over 86.000 inhabitants
  • Challenge: How can we monitor and improve air quality in our city using open data?
  • Solution: Dashboard to combine Flemish air quality datasets and sensor data of the city of Mechelen

THE CHALLENGE

Good air quality in a city is essential for several reasons. Firstly, for the health of our citizens, who may suffer from lung, heart and other related problems due to poor air quality. Secondly, smog and acid rain can affect both the environment and the city’s infrastructures.

Several circumstances such as time, weather, traffic, events or street layout can influence the air quality of the city. It is therefore imperative to monitor the air quality accurately throughout the city and present it clearly to be able to make the right decisions in order to improve it.

 

SOLUTION

Nazka developed a dashboard where different datasets like air, traffic, weather could be combined to look for patterns and correlations. The open data provided by Flanders was integrated in the dashboard. The possibility to compare different point on different timeframes and events could give us a lot of insights.

Below you can see an insight of the develpoment of Nazka

 

RESULTS & LEARNINGS

  • The project was partly dependant on the placing of sensors throughout the city. However, there were several problems with these sensors which could not be fixed during the pilot. This showed that dependencies between projects are a major risk.
  • There was limited staff availabilty at the city environmental department during the pilot, which had a negative effect on the implementation. Broad ownership within organisation is important.
  • Since no citizen app was developed, visibility and impact was very limited to none.
  • The company was able to take the development further, so the pilot did help in the further growth of the product and the company.

 

BENEFITS FOR OTHER CITIES

  • The key is to have a commitment from the end-users (whether that’s community services, citizens or other stakeholders)
  • Dashboards are useful tools to compare situations at different times and/or places, to assess the impact of certain measures being implemented or the influence of certain elements in the public domain.
  • It helps that pollutant measurements are translated into a more understandable statistic.
  • The app uses modeling data combined with (local) measurements, which means something useful can be shown for every location, not just in the direct vicinity of a sensor.

 

NEXT STEPS

A possibility would be to introduce the option to have alerts when certain value is exceeded and information on the background, effects and cause of the different values that are included in the analysis. Nazka can continue development thanks to another European project (city of Mechelen is not involved)