First Ground Truth 2.0 citizen observatory launched!
On the sunny afternoon of Sunday, 17 September, the first Ground Truth 2.0 citizen observatory was launched in Mechelen, Belgium. Uit Zonder Uitlaat (‘out without exhaust’) is a yearly event organized by the city of Mechelen on Car Free Sunday. Some 70 organisations presented their activities ranging from culture to sports, sustainability and mobility. This was the perfect occasion to present Meet Mee Mechelen, the Ground Truth 2.0 citizen observatory in Belgium, at its own dedicated stand! Meet Mee Mechelen focuses on environmental quality of life in the city of Mechelen and involves citizens in monitoring their local air quality and noise.
“Our Citizen Observatory community more than tripled in size at our launch event. Over the coming weeks, we will reach out to more and more people to grow a solid community for tackling air pollution and noise in Mechelen.”
Together with 7 members of our co-design group, we engaged with more than 200 visitors. Forty volunteers registered to be involved in the citizen science campaigns on air quality and sound due to take place this autumn. So we tripled the size of our community in one afternoon! Together with the visitors of the event, we organized a campaign to map the air quality on this day without car traffic in the city centre. Everyone had the opportunity to use a public bicycle and an air quality sensor to measure black carbon concentrations in Mechelen. Black Carbon is the combustion related component of particulate matter (fine dust). Traffic and heating are important sources of this pollutant. The results clearly show the impact of the traffic on the city’s ring road compared to the substantially lower concentrations in the traffic free zone. This first achievement triggered more interest in a large scale campaign. All visitors left suggestions on which locations to include when scaling up the measurement campaign.
As part of this Ground Truth 2.0 citizen observatory, citizens can use mobile air quality sensors, app-based automatic noise level sensing and they can share subjective measurements of perceived air pollution and noise disturbance via a dedicated app. According to its mission, the Meet Mee Mechelen citizen observatory will be “an online and offline meeting place where we gather and generate data, information and knowledge about air quality and ambient noise and make all accessible for everyone, to support policy making and initiatives for a better living environment.”
Further reading on the goals, objectives and achievements of this Ground Truth 2.0 Demo Case can be found on Meet Mee Mechelen.