What if we could freely measure the quality of the air we breathe? This is the experience that more than 150 inhabitants of the Community of Communes of the Pays du Mont-Blanc were able to test with particle-measuring micro-sensors during the winter of 2018 - 2019. These micro-sensors were made available by Atmo Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes with the support of the Community of Communes of the Pays du Mont-Blanc (CCPMB) as part of the European BB-Clean project.
To understand the particular atmospheric phenomena of the Alpine valleys.
Every winter, the Alpine valleys are confronted with episodes of particulate pollution influenced by emissions, weather conditions and mountain topography. In order to better understand these phenomena and to put citizens back at the heart of air quality issues, Atmo Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, with the support of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, is developing a citizen measurement sensor library (The Captotheque). This device has been tested within the framework of the European BB-Clean project, on the territory of the CCPMB, which is already involved in those air quality issues. Particle micro-sensors have thus been lent to citizens of the Arve Valley.
The experimenters could freely measure, during 2 weeks, the air quality of their daily life, then exchange with other experimenters, elected officials and experts of the observatory.
Citizen measurements to facilitate exchanges
In 3 months, more than 150 sensors have been deployed throughout the country, at all altitudes, generating 2000 hours of particle measurements, i.e. more than 4,000,000 data. The data can be consulted by the experimenters on a platform, called the Captotheque, and analyzed by Atmo Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes to understand the perception of the participants on the air quality of the territory.
But beyond the measurement, meeting and discovery times between experimenters, elected officials and experts were organized, allowing everyone to share their knowledge and perceptions.
The experimenters were able to discuss their measurements with elected officials and air quality experts.
Comparison of measurements, forecasting methods, use of firewood, management of polluting episodes or simple exchange, these are just some of the workshops organized to better understand the observation of air quality and to concretize good practices in its favour.
"The use of the micro-sensor really makes it possible to ask the right questions at the level of individual behavior. It also makes it possible to realize that sometimes we have certain thoughts about pollution that are wrong. I think that the people in the valley are doing quite a bit of work on the whole. They are rewarded and you can see that with the sensor. " - Comment from an experimenter
An experiment monitored by a sociologist
A re-establishment of dialogue monitored and analyzed by a sociologist to analyze the impact of citizen involvement in measuring air quality: "Sociology was able to see how the experimenters were able to take their sensors in hand, how they appropriated them in their daily lives, how they interpreted the measurements and what kind of interpretation they needed. Sociology also made it possible to detect changes in behavior, why, in what framework, and how the experiment was placed in the reflection on behavior change.
The project was continued during the winter of 2020 in Austria and Italy as part of the Interreg Alpine Space BB-Clean project and was equally successful with citizens, but also with the public of students and schoolchildren. As for the Captotheque, the sensor loan management platform of Atmo Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, it has been improved and is now offered in the metropolises of Grenoble, Clermont-Ferrand and Lyon.