On April 1st, all the actors in search of new forms of environmental observation met at the national symposium "Sensors and participatory sciences" organized at the Sorbonne in Paris. It was an opportunity for Atmo Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes to come back to the Captothèque and its citizen experimentation on air quality.
Julia and you, the new sentinels of air quality
Monday morning, 8am. You receive a notification on your phone indicating that the expected air quality looks good on your work route, which you cycle. On the way, however, you feel the air is polluted. A glance at the data from the measuring micro-sensor installed on the handlebars confirms your feeling: at the corner of Rue de l'Armistice and Boulevard Pasteur, nitrogen dioxide concentrations explode! You share this data in one click via the application at Atmo Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. The fixed micro-sensors installed nearby on the balconies by volunteer citizens are immediately questioned to confirm the hypothesis. The data collected by the sensors installed on the bicycles of postal workers, which were passed a little earlier, are also mobilized.
All this collective intelligence is analyzed in a matter of seconds: the forecast maps are updated, after a new calculation of the expected dispersion of pollutants.
Julia, who is on her way to the park with her child two blocks away, receives a notification informing her of a risk of degraded air quality on her route. Thus informed, Julia will choose another route.
Like noise measurement, is the future of air quality observation in the micro-sensor?
Towards an increased observatory?
Halfway between reality and fiction, the story of you and Julia, and the thousands of data that connect you, may be our daily life in a few years, or even months. Because environmental observation, and in particular that of air quality, is currently experiencing a period of unprecedented innovation thanks to the arrival of connected objects, such as micro-sensors.
These micro measurement stations, commonly known as sensors, are less expensive and take up less space, making it possible to envisage the deployment of networks of measurement points distributed over our territories. And to imagine new uses for measurement... by facilitating, for example, the participation of society as a whole (citizens, economic players, communities) in the observation of air quality. The integration of networks of micro-sensors in the observatory is a medium-term development path that will increase its spatial and temporal resolution, as well as its capacity to take into account localized or atypical events.
The integration of micro-sensor networks in the observatory is a medium-term evolutionary path.
In this way, the people and infrastructures equipped could "increase" their local data and observations and knowledge on air quality. But until then, a number of technical and technological obstacles remain to be overcome.
A national symposium to bring together ideas
It remains to invent the software and logistical "intelligence" that will optimally coordinate these new instruments and the behaviors they enable. The hypotheses to achieve this are numerous. In fact, numerous research or experimentation projects have been launched throughout France and Europe over the last five years to study and improve these new uses and their supporting technologies.
The purpose of the interdisciplinary conference Sensors and Participatory Sciences, organized by the Faculty of Sciences of Sorbonne University, thanks to the support of the DIM QI2 of the Ile-De-France region and the OSU ECCE TERRA, was precisely to establish an inventory of initiatives in France. The 4 days of presentations and debates allowed the actors involved in air quality innovation to exchange ideas, doubts, findings and best practices with the idea of sharing their visions.
Around thirty teams came to present their research and conclusions on multidisciplinary subjects, ranging from the capture technique - with the calibration of in situ micro-sensors for example - to the societal and civic impact of participation in environmental observation - such as the feedback from the Ambassad'Air project - and research in modeling.
The debates led to a public synthesis of the major information, which can be consulted here.
The Captotheque, the vision of Atmo Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes to bring citizens together and monitor air quality
Atmo Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes presented its Captotheque system, tested this winter on the community of communes of the Mont-Blanc countries and the Grenoble metropolis. Imagined to use micro-sensors as a link between citizens and the observatory, it aims to offer all the inhabitants of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, without any condition of resources, the possibility of measuring the air they breathe by borrowing a measurement sensor free of charge. Everyone will thus be able to discover their atmospheric environment, learn and share their discoveries thanks to a web platform.
Still under development, the Captotheque will be offered in pilot areas from the end of 2019.