Academic paper on Low-cost Particulate Matter Sensors for Monitoring Residential Wood Burning

The last issue of the scientific journal Environmental Science and Technology contains a paper on the learnings from the NordicPATH project. The paper, written by NILU, presents some of the results of using low-cost air monitoring sensors in our Urban Living Lab in Kristiansand (Norway) as part of the project activities. Here is the paper abstract:

“Conventional monitoring systems for air quality, such as reference stations, provide reliable pollution data in urban settings but only at relatively low spatial density. This study explores the potential of low-cost sensor systems (LCSs) deployed at homes of residents to enhance the monitoring of urban air pollution caused by residential wood burning. We established a network of 28 Airly (Airly-GSM-1, SP. Z o.o., Poland) LCSs in Kristiansand, Norway, over two winters (2021–2022). To assess performance, a gravimetric Kleinfiltergerät measured the fine particle mass concentration (PM2.5) in the garden of one participant’s house for 4 weeks. Results showed a sensor-to-reference correlation equal to 0.86 for raw PM2.5 measurements at daily resolution (bias/RMSE: 9.45/11.65 μg m–3). High-resolution air quality maps at a 100 m resolution were produced by combining the output of an air quality model (uEMEP) using data assimilation techniques with the network data that were corrected and calibrated by using a proposed five-step network data processing scheme. Leave-one-out cross-validation demonstrated that data assimilation reduced the model’s RMSE, MAE, and bias by 44–56, 38–48, and 41–52%, respectively.”

Here, you can read the full paper.

Policy Brief: Citizen Science for Environmental Governance in the Nordic Region

The NordicPATH’s policy brief “Citizen Science for Environmental Governance in the Nordic Region” builds on the application of the theory of environmental citizen science. The document proposes four recommendations for the Nordic Council of Ministers and describes how best to connect and integrate environmental citizen science in the Nordic Region so as to achieve three relevant objectives of the Action Plan.

The document has been included in the NordForsk publication “Fast Track to Vision 2030”. This publication is a collection of policy brief articles written by Nordic researchers participating in collaborative projects funded by NordForsk or Nordic Energy Research. This publication aims to contribute relevant and up-to-date research-based knowledge that facilitates the analysis of the challenges and opportunities of Nordic cooperation in the coming years.

You can access the publication here. 

Conference paper: Agency and responsibility in smart air pollution monitoring

The International Conference on Smart and Sustainable Technologies (SpliTech) aims at bringing together academia and professionals from around the world to exchange and discuss ideas while developing collaborations on IoT, Smart city/Environment, RFID, Energy and eHealth. In the 8th edition of the conference, held at Bol (Croatia), part of the NordicPATH consortium presented some of the project’s results, collected in the paper Agency and Responsibility in Smart Air Pollution Monitoring. 

As the abstract introduces,In this paper, we use two cases to illustrate the role of citizens, researchers, and low-cost sensors for air quality monitoring in communal smart environments. In these settings, human-sensor collaborations might reconfigure relations between actors of Citizen Science and the political processes in the terms of roles, agency, and responsibilities. By looking at two cases run in Denmark and Norway, we strive to understand the roles played by citizens, researchers, and sensors in air quality monitoring, the responsibilities assigned to citizens and sensors in producing data about air pollution, and how the quality of the collected data was judged. The two cases show that low-cost sensors constitute an important driver for participation. By collecting data that can be used by local governments to derive relevant insights and informing action, citizens can be more actively involved in improving and maintaining the quality of their living environment. In both cases, we see the sensors as holding the potential to change the way citizens look at their living environments and facilitate data creation as a purposeful and meaningful social activity.”

NordicPATH in the Sustainability Research & Innovation (SRI) Congress

The Sustainability Research & Innovation (SRI) Congress is the world’s largest transdisciplinary gathering for the global sustainability community. The third edition of the SRI Congress, SRI2023, was hosted in Panama, reuniting more than 2000 global sustainability research leaders, government and civil society experts, funders and innovators to inspire action and promote a sustainability transformation. The different sessions were aimed at elevating the knowledge on sustainability, providing an inspiring platform to share ideas, collaboration and action.

The NordicPATH researcher Enza Lissandrello participated in the session on “Creating innovation ecosystems to bring urban strategies to action”. The session was oriented to discuss different ways of interaction between science, policy, business and society to ensure that research efforts meet the needs of urban actors and society better. During the activity, Enza Lissandrello presented the activities carried out in the NordicPATH Living Labs and the working framework as an example of mechanisms that mobilise all forces in the ecosystem to leverage the available competences, recourses, and knowledge.

Bottlenecks in participatory urban air quality management

As part of the mid-term evaluation of the project, NordicPATH prepared a series of posters to present some of the research activities we have initiated in our attempt to co-create more sustainable Nordic cities. Today we would like to introduce you to the third of them which focuses on the bottlenecks we have found around the management of participatory urban air quality activities. You can also check the first one here and the second one here.

Like in any Urban Living Labs, the ones of the NordicPATH project promote participatory activities with a variety of actors. In particular, our activities aim to engage engage citizens, policy-makers, experts and industries in activities for the co-creation of urban solutions to improve the air quality in our pilot cities (Kristiansand in Norway, Lappeenranta in Finland, Aalborg in Denmark, and Gothenburg in Sweden). However, throughout our experience, we have come across a number of bottlenecks. That is barriers, obstacles and impediments towards that goal.

Some of the most common bottlenecks in Urban Living Labs (ULLs) can be categorized according to 1) the use of data, 2) the monitoring and collection of data, 3) the community and stakeholder engagement, 4) the organizational and bureaucratic issues, 5) the local needs and motivations to monitor data. Grounding on literature, the poster establishes a comparison between traditional bottlenecks that have been commonly identified in Urban Living Labs, and how they have been particularly present for us in NordicPATH.

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The participation model of the NordicPATH Urban Living Labs

As part of the mid-term evaluation of the project, NordicPATH prepared a series of posters to present some of the research activities we have initiated in our attempt to co-create more sustainable Nordic cities. Today we would like to introduce you to the second of them (you can check the first one here), which focuses on the NordicPATH model of participation in our Urban Living Labs.

The Urban Living Labs are some of the key elements of the NordicPATH project. Our Living Labs are the hubs in which we engage citizens, policy-makers, experts and industries in activities with the aim of co-creating urban solutions that respond to the needs of our pilot cities (Kristiansand in Norway, Lappeenranta in Finland, Aalborg in Denmark, and Gothenburg in Sweden). But, what is exactly an Urban Living Lab? What do they do? How do they operate?

Throughout the project, we have been researching this form of organization and trying to find our very own definition. Despite still being a work-in-progress, we came up with a model that reflects on the actions, the participants, the aims, and the context of each pilot city, and the commonalities shared by all the Living Labs.

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Data collection in NordicPATH – the case of Kristiansand (Norway)

As part of the mid-term evaluation of the project, NordicPATH prepared a series of posters to present some of the research activities we have initiated in our attempt to co-create more sustainable Nordic cities. Today we would like to introduce you to the first of them, which focuses on the flow of data in NordicPATH. In particular, we represented the case of our Living Lab in Kristisansand (Norway)

As the poster shows, the process started with some re-collection activities, in which local policy-makers and scientists discussed the areas where data should be collected to make informed decisions. Once the topic and the physical areas were agreed upon, the collection activities began. On one hand, we used high-quality sensors strategically located in the city to measure air quality. Complementary, citizens were invited to use fixed and mobile sensors in their homes or their bikes to complement the data collection. The data was then processed, analyzed and presented to local actors. Both decision-makers and citizens were invited to several activities to discuss the results and co-create strategies for city planning

(Click on the image to zoom in)

NordicPATH presented at the Nordic Council of Ministers in Copenhagen

Some weeks ago, our project coordinator, Núria Castell, received at the NILU offices the NordForsk team. The goal was to understand better how NordicPATH is working towards its goal, and the initial results obtained in the first half of the project. The interview was recorded and then presented at the Nordic Council of Ministers in Copenhagen as an example of praxis towards sustainable cities and was very well received.

You can access the video here and, soon, the full article from the interview will also be published.

Engaging Citizen Science Conference (Aarhus)

On the 25th and 26th of April, NordicPATH was participating at the Engaging Citizen Science conference in Aarhus. The conference aimed to engage the citizen science community to promote knowledge sharing on research, ideas, and innovations in order to make the field thrive and expand. The conference consisted on workshops, dialogue roundtables, posters, and demos from all main areas of research (natural and technical sciences, life and health sciences, and social sciences and humanities).

At one of the round table sessions on “Environment and Empowerment”, the NordicPATH representatives (Sonja Grossberndt and Nuria Castell) facilitated a dialogue with the participants on how low-cost sensor technologies and citizen science can make air pollution visible and shape policies towards healthier cities. Initially, the discussion versed on how to increase trust in sensor data. Among the responses, terms like standardisation, transparency and combination with other data were the most suggested, but also training and education of participants were mentioned.

The conversation then moved towards how data can be made more “attractive/actionable”. For this, different forms of visualization were suggested, preferably map-based. Additionally, peer-reviewed publications for policy makers and infographics for the public were mentioned. Further issues discussed included the ownership of citizen generated/collected data and how these data can be shared without violating European GDPR regulations.

From the project side, the session was a great scenario to constructively discuss on some of the most common challenges we face in our data-collection tasks. Having the opportunity to hear and learn from participants from academia, the public sector and NGOs from Europe and the US definitely enriched our visions and inspired us for the coming steps.

© Sonja Grossberndt

NordicPATH in the Nordic Smart City Network

A few days ago, the Nordic Smart City Network published an article featuring the activities of NordicPATH in Kristiansand. It echoes our aim to generate a participatory community of citizens, decision-makers, urban planners, and scientists that co-designs a healthy and sustainable future for the city.

In particular, the writing highlights the involvement of citizens in this strategy, mentioning the air-monitoring and urban-planning activities as concrete enablers of a “new participative planning culture in the Nordic countries that will not just reflect the democracy that the Nordic countries represent in the world, but also the progress towards deliberative democracy, involving and shaping important local and global issues (such as air quality) together with citizens’ input on decisions”.


Read the whole text here and follow on the Kristiansand activities here.