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.

Wood burning perceptions in Kristiansand – infographic from survey results

During the early months of 2021, 255 Kristiansand citizens participated in the survey launched by the municipality in collaboration with NordicPATH about the use and perception of wood-burning for heating at home. The survey not only addressed practical issues on the frequency of use of fireplaces at households but also gave the opportunity to the respondents to step in the shoes of city planners and reflect upon ways to prevent the particle emissions from these practices.

The results were shared and discussed in a workshop during spring, and now have been gathered in an infographic that aims to encourage the reflections of citizens and decision-makers on the topic. As shown in the visualization, wood-burning practices are strongly rooted in the daily practices of  Kristiansand citizens. Yet, there is still a considerable crowd that remains unaware of the safest way for wood-burning in terms of health, and of the effect of not doing it correctly. This data is already being studied and considered by the Municipality for coming policies and urban planning. 

First (physical) NordicPATH Consortium Meeting

On the 19th of October, after a year and a half since the project started, most of the NordicPATH consortium finally reunited in person. Screen sharing was never easier, there were no forgotten muted microphones interrupting the conversation nor digitally raised hands. Maybe because of the last reason, our meeting extended so long through the day 🙂

Taking advantage of being physically together and the less-demanding meeting conditions in terms of concentration span, we did an intense activity of zooming out and looking at the big picture of the project. Aligning with the project aims, we worked on a model for citizen participation in environmental monitoring and urban planning to co-create sustainable and healthy cities, considering the evolution of our activities from the last months, the current challenges of the different work packages, and the next steps from a holistic perspective.

In the afternoon, we also had the opportunity to hold our second workshop with the municipalities of the project. Following a hybrid format, we discussed the challenges and opportunities of citizens’ involvement and participation, particularly in regard to air quality initiatives. We are currently analyzing the data and inputs that emerged during the discussion, which we will happily share with you soon.

Research stories from the Kristiansand Urban Lab

A couple of weeks ago,  the Municipality of Kristiansand published an article about the research taking place in our Kristiansand Urban Lab we are immensely proud of.

The article presents a human-centered view on the participation of the different groups that are involved in the monitoring and research activities in the city, both from the municipality and from the citizens’ perspective. With a combination of scroll-telling and media, you can dive into the investigation on wood burning, and hear from the researcher citizens, their first-hand stories using sensors to monitor the air quality around them, as well as their perceptions and insights.

Take a look at the full article (in Norwegian) and reach to us if you want to contribute to the project!

Lappeenranta in the EU Green Week

Some weeks ago, the NordicPATH Urban Lab in Lappeenranta (Finland) participated at the EU Green Week. The opening session of the event, dedicated to Citizen Science for Zero Pollution, was focused on shedding light on the citizen-driven research and planning activities that target towards Zero-Pollution future of Europe.

During the opening session, Sara Piutunen from Lappeenranta presented the Case Study of the city. The presentation, called Reducing street dust by co-operation with the municipality and residents in Lappeenranta, was supported by this video, created to show the topic and the collaborative activities and actions taking place within this goal.



Mapping air quality, uses and experiences at Kungsparken

In Gothenburg, we have located 12 sensors in Kungsparken to explore, at the same time, the air quality, the use and the experience of visitors in the area. Is there a connection between the quality of air and a good or bad experience in an outdoor area? Can the air we breathe play a role in improving our outdoor activities? How can the use of city parks be enhanced by taking care of the air quality? How can the city officials work to reduce the air pollution exposure of the visitors in the parks? 

The collection of data from the citizens’ experience with a more detailed air quality mapping can play a significant role in the planning of parks. Together with the municipality of Gothenburg, we have started a series of initiatives that will provide us with information to nurture discussions and co-creation of solutions for urban planning with citizens, city officials, and scientists.

On one hand, since April, we have measured NO2 (Nitrogen Dioxide) with passive samplers place at 12 sites in Kungsparken. Every month we change the samplers, so this week we collected the samples for June and put out new samples for July. 

This month we also added active sensors for the measurement of particles and measurements of O3 (Ozone).  In autumn, the mapping activities will be extended, as citizens will be able to borrow a sensor and become active participants in the air quality monitoring.  

On the other hand, we have recently launched a survey open to everyone in Gothenburg that uses and wants to contribute to improving Kungsparken. The questionnaire focuses on the experiences occurring at the park and is aimed to provide additional sensorial information to the air quality data collected by the sensors so together they provide a solid base for further urban planning. 

We will keep you posted on the findings. Anyhow, if you wish to collaborate in the monitoring and/or ulterior dialogue, you can register your submission at this link or send an email to

Wood-burning seminar in Kristiansand

The past month of March, our Living Lab in Kristiansand hosted its first webinar on wood-burning practices. Due to the higher level of fine fraction particulate matter (MP2.5) during wintertime, the municipality of Kristiansand’s concern on the topic raised. As wood-burning is crucial to Norwegian culture, making the discussions about the reduction of PM2.5 emissions a touchy topic. Therefore, the municipality has started campaigns to raise awareness on this issue amongst its inhabitants. The activities have included the dissemination of 25 air-quality sensors distributed to volunteer citizens to measure particulate matter in key areas of the city, an online survey on wood-burning practices and house heating that has run during the winter and spring months, and, most recently, a webinar to discuss the issue and start co-imagining solutions on how to reduce the PM2.5 levels during wintertime without banning wood burning.

22 people registered for the webinar. In addition, 2 representatives of Kristiansand municipality, 3 representatives of the NordicPATH project, and 3 experts from NILU, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, and the Norwegian Asthma and Allergy Association were participating in the workshop as experts. The first half of the session included short contributions from the aforementioned experts about preliminary results from the ULL activities (air quality measurements by citizens and the online survey) and knowledge on wood-burning (emissions from different stoves, health aspects, correct use of wood-burning facilities to reduce indoor exposure). The second half left room for an open discussion that touched upon key areas of concern for the participants, including:

  • The importance of the cultural aspects of woodburning in relation to health effects;
  • The emissions from woodburning in relation to other emissions. The importance of a “nuanced” discussion;
  • Energy efficiency and the need to spread the information about a “best practice” of woodburning;
  • The need to upgrade old wood burners in relation to costs and possibilities of getting financial incentives.

The wood-burning webinar was one of the initial ULL activities in Kristiansand. We are happy to see that this first attempt by the municipality to engage on a controversial topic turned to be an open dialogue with all participants at the same level. Instead of frightening citizens about data or potential measurements restricting their leisure activities, the session was open for participants’ inputs on the topic.

The participants acknowledged the importance of wood-burning and agreed it has to be kept balanced between cultural habits and detrimental health effects. Suggestions for improving the efficiency of woodburning stoves and how to improve the municipality’s communication routines were also made. These ideas have also been reflected in the replies provided through the Menitmeter© shared after the webinar and filled up by the participants.

Despite the majority of participants were already somehow connected to the project activities, and it was challenging to recruit people that are not already engaged in the topic or the Living Lab, this event proved to be a suitable tool for the municipality to gain inputs and feedback from those that do not work in the municipality. Both the municipality and we at NordicPATH are very positive about the constructive discussion and the insights they received. This knowledge, together with the results from the wood-burning survey, will be used in the upcoming work on the action plan to reduce emissions and improve air quality in Kristiansand.

As a follow-up, a co-creation workshop is planned to take place before the summer, where representatives from the municipality, from the private sector, and other actors (e.g., wood stove producers, retailers of firewood, fire brigade, etc) will discuss how they can work together to reduce emissions from woodburning in Kristiansand in the future. The format for such a co-creation workshop has to be planned together with the NordicPATH partners that are experts in participative planning in order to “get the most out of it”. We will inform you of the dates and further details soon through our project channels. Stay posted!


You can find the full report of the workshop in our ‘Resources’ section