This air quality monitoring network in Helsinki region provides information from locations of fixed monitoring stations but the network consists currently of only few monitoring locations. The project aims to produce comprehensive hyper-local air quality monitoring network including crowdsourcing portable monitors that gives citizens air quality information of the exposure to air pollution in places where they live and they travel in the city. The main beneficiaries are therefore the citizens of Helsinki.
The main purpose of the Healthy Outdoor Premises for Everyone (HOPE) project is to empower and mobilize the citizens in their own districts. The project focuses on three different districts with varying air quality challenges.
The Helsinki air quality monitoring network provides accurate measurements from the locations of fixed monitoring stations in the region but the network consists currently of eleven monitoring locations spread over a wide and diverse area of the four municipalities. Change that we want to achieve is that the citizens will find air quality issues easily relatable and understandable. Ultimately, with better understanding of the air quality issues in their own environment, the citizen will be able to make better and healthier choices in their daily lives. The solution creates a feedback loop between high-resolution hyper-local air quality monitoring and actions of individuals and communities through co-design and participatory budgeting. With better understanding of air quality issues and with the help of personalized air quality data, organisers empower residents to be active owners of their local air quality.
The HOPE project focuses on three districts in Helsinki with varying air quality challenges. Jätkäsaari is major residential waterfront district under development which will be home to some 30,000 citizens by 2030, but its current over-10,000 inhabitants are affected by dust from ongoing local construction works and related logistics as well as traffic congestion and vehicle emissions. Vallila is a dense older inner-city district with urban street canyons with over 30,000 vehicles passing through daily, causing emissions and a heavy street dust problem especially during the early spring season. Suburban Pakila area is affected by local domestic wood burning smoke, as well as the two main highways with about 100,000 vehicles passing through the area every day.
The first major milestone of the HOPE project is planning and building three new state of the art local monitoring networks in Jätkäsaari, Vallila and Pakila areas. In addition to building the monitoring networks the crowdsourced citizen air quality measurement campaigns have began. Up to 100 citizens at a time will carry a mobile sensor device which will produce hyper-local real time air quality data to be processed as a part of the regional air quality information, maps and forecasts. State of the art technologies developed in the project such as AI algorithms, machine learning and edge-computing are used in calibrating the sensors and crunching the data.
The project will organize six crowdsourced air quality measuring campaigns with proprietary HOPE mobile sensors designed by University of Helsinki’s Megasense research group over the three year span between 2019-2021. The portable sensors connect to a user’s smart phone via Bluetooth and transfer the data to the University of Helsinki’s Internet of Things (IoT) data platform.
In 2020 and 2021 the project will mobilize the citizens in the three districts through co-design, participatory budgeting and local air quality interventions. The citizens will have a HOPE mobile and web applications based on the idea of personal Co2 footprint calculator where they can find out about the effect of their daily choices on the local air quality, actively report their actions and collect credits for the voting process. A gamification element is also introduced as the citizens can also challenges their friends and neighbors etc. to compete for the credits. In the participatory budget voting the citizens choose local air quality improving interventions to be implemented in their districts.
In addition to these activities an innovation competition with the theme of utilizing the air quality data produced by the project will be organized for companies in the spring 2020.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
The approach of involving and empowering the citizens to participate in local environmental monitoring to complement and improve the public service of regional air quality monitoring is particularly innovative. The approach will also give citizens a new understanding of the local air quality issues and challenges, which should then "nudge" them to make better informed choices in their everyday lives.
What is the current status of your innovation?
The HOPE project’s first full-scale air quality measurement campaign is currently going on in the Pakila area, in the early spring of 2020 the project moves to measure in Vallila and then the same round of measurements in the three areas will be repeated.
In 2020 and 2021 the project will mobilise the citizens in their own districts through co-design, participatory budgeting and local air quality interventions. In addition to these activities an innovation competition with the theme of utilizing the air quality data produced by the project will be organized for companies in the spring 2020.
Collaborations & Partnerships
The consortium consisted of:
City of Helsinki Economic Development division coordinates the project.
University of Helsinki Dept. of Computer Science and Department of Geosciences and Geography.
Vaisala provides technology do high-quality research and development.
Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority is a municipal service body.
Finnish Meteorological Institute analyses data.
Useless Company is a Finnish impact start-up.
Forum Virium Helsinki is the City of Helsinki innovation company.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
Main beneficiaries of the project will be the citizens of Helsinki who will be better informed about their local air quality, the quality of air will be improved locally and the urban and traffic planning processes of the City of Helsinki will take the air quality issues in account more.
Also the local ecosystem of innovative startups, SMEs and even larger companies will benefit from having access to open air quality data which they can utilize for business purposes.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
By the end of the project in 2021, organisers are expecting to be able to show, based on the air quality monitoring and the citizen surveys conducted, that the interventions have improved the local air quality in the chosen city districts in Helsinki; that the citizens will have better understanding of air quality issues; and, that the citizens make better and healthier choices in their everyday lives.
Challenges and Failures
So far there have been no major challenges or failures, however, engaging with citizens has proved to be even more labor-intensive than initially anticipated.
Conditions for Success
Requisite for success has been an active local civic society, transparent and engaging public policy and governance, human and financial resources, effective policy for open data and innovation, state of the art technology and science excellence.
The innovation and solution proposed has been designed and planned in such a way that it could be replicated by other city administrations almost anywhere.
The project is at the implementation stage at the moment.
- Implementation - making the innovation happen
3 November 2020