Atmo Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes presented to the press on October 3rd the results of a new experiment of air quality measurement, called Mobicit'air. This experiment brought together citizens, elected officials, technicians, scientists and sociologists around micro-sensors. Here are the first results.
They are accessible, small, mobile, connected... Personal micro-sensors for measuring air quality are beginning to interest those who wish to experiment with the quality of the air they breathe. The interests of this technology are also numerous for observatories, but beyond identifying their potential for the evolution of monitoring, the idea was to involve the citizen in the measurement of air quality. Atmo Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, with the financial support of the Metropolis of Grenoble, the State and the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region, decided to study these new technologies more closely and to experiment their use in real conditions, with about thirty Grenoble volunteers.
Why air quality micro-sensors?
Official air quality monitoring observatories, such as Atmo Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, use networks of measuring stations containing approved analyzers that provide the performance required for regulatory analysis of air quality.
90 measuring stations in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Complementary indicative measures
What is the place of the micro-sensor in today's air quality monitoring system? This is one of the first lessons of the Mobicit'air experiment: after a thorough comparative study, we know that the micro-sensors available on the market today are capable of giving an interesting indicative trend, but it is not possible to give them the same level of confidence as the reference measurement methods.
Partnerships with the 8 main existing companies on the French market have been contracted to evaluate the performance of their micro-sensors and compare them with the measurements made by the reference analyzers.
Towards an optimization of monitoring
The use of micro-sensors is still an opportunity to improve monitoring. Widely deployed, these sensors could provide the observatory with large volumes of data at finer spatial and temporal scales, thus feeding air quality modeling.
With this objective, the Mobicit'air project has defined the major fields of future research: choice of technologies, location of micro-sensors in the field, data interoperability or standardization of statistical assimilation methods.
So many solutions need to be put in place so that the micro-sensors become a real tool for optimizing monitoring.
Micro-sensors allow to collect measurement in mobility and in real time.
A powerful awareness tool
Beyond the technical exploration, it is the sociological approach to the use of the micro-sensor, by citizens, that has been at the heart of the project.
The 30 volunteer experimenters, selected from the Grenoble metropolitan area to be equipped with micro-sensors, were free to carry out measurements, at home, in the city, with or without mobility, for a period of two weeks to a month and a half.
This citizen experiment was accompanied by Stéphane Labranche, a professor-researcher in sociology and political science and a member of the IPCC.
Mobicit'air is above all an experiment to understand how the citizen can be an actor in air quality. Camille Rieux - Atmo Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Measure by yourself to better understand air quality
Citizen experimentation first teaches us that individual measurement of air quality increases knowledge. Indeed, by defining their own measurement strategy, coupled with the handling of the tool and direct feedback, the experimenters were able to better apprehend different phenomena.
Many of them were able to realize - and accept - that certain daily practices are very polluting, such as burning plant waste, heating with wood in an open fireplace or using a car, particularly in city centers.
Also, the propensity of the experimenters to want to exchange and communicate their discoveries to others has increased. The micro-sensor has transformed some of them into true ambassadors of air quality. They have thus raised awareness among their relatives, colleagues and even strangers, such as skiers on a cross-country ski trail.
Experimenting with phenomena on your own allows you to better understand them... and to accept them...
Accompanying the dynamics of behavioral change
The perceptive experience of pollution-related phenomena, brought about by the use of the micro-sensor, is therefore an important step in the process of changing individual behavior.
Even if there is no direct behavioural change on daily mobility (home-work), which is too constrained by other factors such as time management, the experimenters showed more flexibility in changing their mobility practices at weekends and more generally on leisure time. The experimenters are also ready to make more sustainable changes in certain equipment choices in order to reduce pollutant emissions: choice of vehicles and type of heating in particular.
Towards a capture library to encourage citizen action
The Mobicit'air project has opened up several avenues of work, but above all a vision: to allow everyone to evaluate their personal exposure, thanks to micro-sensors to promote citizen engagement. This is why Atmo Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes will soon develop a capture library in several towns in the region, which will make micro-sensors available to the public.
Accompanied by specific visualization tools (smartphone application, web platform), these sensors will also allow everyone to participate in the collaborative collection of air quality data.
Find all the conclusions of the study in the press kit.