Air quality

ENVIRONMENT – AIR QUALITY

How can we use data to improve air quality in our cities?

 

Challenge Identifier: BC2 – 2018 – MB
Sponsor Cities: Mechelen, Bruges

Mechelen is located in the heart of Flanders, between Brussels and Antwerp. This central position ensures that both cities are reachable in 20 minutes. Mechelen is therefore an ideal operation base. The territory not only hosts the historical city center but also 5 smaller villages: Heffen, Hombeek, Leest, Muizen and Walem. This accumulates in a total of 86.304 inhabitants. The population is very diverse, 27,5% of the population has non-belgian roots (couleur locale, Prisma vzw, 2013). Mechelen has a very active and positive take on diversity.

Bruges is the third biggest city in Flanders with 118.000 inhabitants.  Every inhabitant owns a bike. As well as the inhabitants, commuters and students, the city attracts 5 million visitors a year. inhabitant owns a bike and almost half of all commuting happens by bike.

Description

Air quality has a serious impact many aspects of city life. These include the health of our citizens, who may suffer lung problems or heart disease and the environment, where poor air quality may cause smog and acid rain. The challenge is even stronger in highly urbanised regions in the 2Seas area and historic city centres face their own particular issues regarding narrow ‘canyonised’ streets and the degradation of historic buildings.

Currently, it is difficult for cities to have an integrated evidence-based view on air quality and link these to specific circumstances. These may be general, such as time, weather, traffic and events, or particular to the built environment issues such as specific building materials or street layout, where pollutants become trapped by air recirculation between narrow buildings.

Once these are identified, how can local authorities have an impact on these to improve the air-quality for our citizens?

Expected Outcomes

  • Integration of air-quality measures, e.g.
    • temporal measures, real-time measures, other open data sources;
    • different measure like NOx, particle measures;
    • from different organisations, suppliers or sensors.
  • Scenario tool for air-quality improvement
    • Gauging the impact of specific measures;
    • What-if scenarios.
  • Real-life feedback integration
    • Closing the loop between using the scenario tool, executing the advised scenario in practice, and measuring the eventual impact on air-quality;
  • Urban planning tool
    • Where to locate specific sites (schools, factories) to minimise the air-quality impact.

Expected Impact

  • Root causes for air-quality degradation have been identified;
  • Remedial actions have been identified and have been shown to work;
  • In the long run, air quality measures are reduced below World Health Organisation limits on a daily basis.

Datasets

  • Brugge: Road Register: information on road infrastructure.
  • Brugge: Intersection Register: information on road intersections.
  • Brugge: Traffic measures: information on the amount of motorised and non-motorised traffic on specific roads.
  • Brugge: Particle measures: information from a mobile installation.
  • Brugge: Particle measures: information from a fixed installation.
  • Brugge: Demographic measures.
  • Mechelen: VMM, Flemish environmental society
  • Mechelen: Road infrastructure (street width, gradient, …)
  • Mechelen: Public infrastructure inventory
  • Mechelen: VITO MeetMeeMechelen (independent Flemish research organisation in the area of cleantech and sustainable development)
  • Mechelen: District borders
  • Mechelen: Location of forests
  • Mechelen: Curieuze neuzen (big citizen scientific research on air quality, specifically NO2)
  • Mechelen: Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR reporting)
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