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CITI-SENSE – citizens’ empowerment through novel use of sensor technologies and mobile applications

Foto: Sonja Grossberndt

CITI-SENSE is a new EU project under the lead of NILU, with the aim to empower citizens to contribute and participate in environmental governance. The project is also new in the combination of scientific methods, technology development and active empowerment of citizens.


Alena Bartonova
Alena Bartonova. Seniorforsker og koordinator for EU- og EØS-forskning ved NILU. Foto: Ingar Næss

By Anne Nyeggen og Sonja Grossberndt

The project ‘CITI-SENSE – Development of sensor-based Citizens’ Observatory Community for improving quality of life in cities’ comprises of 27 partners organisations and has a total budget of 12 million Euro.

CITI-SENSE is pursuing ground breaking approaches for measuring environmental exposure, Dr Alena Bartonova from NILU, senior scientist and project co-ordinator explains. – Citizens will have access to portable sensors and personal devices to obtain and deliver environmental data to an online data repository. The citizens will in return receive a set of tailor made data on environmental exposure on local level. Central element within this process is the so called ‘citizens’ observatory’. Here, users and other project stakeholders exchange results, discuss and receive additional information on certain issues.

CITI-SENSE will raise awareness and empower citizens to make use of the obtained results and ensure participation in societal and environmental decisions.

– I am very excited about this project, as it combines both scientific methods, novel use of technologies and active involvement of citizens at all stages, says Bartonova. The public interest we received in Prague during our kick-off meeting shows that the concept is appealing and that such activities are needed.

Three case studies will focus on environmental exposure linked to air quality, noise and development of public spaces and indoor environment in schools. The case studies will be performed in nine locations all over Europe and will be designed in close collaboration with citizens’ groups and decision makers.

In Oslo, the researchers will carry out two initiatives: One is to measure air pollution in the city (NILU) and the other one is to measure indoor environment in schools. The latter will be under the lead of the Norwegian Asthma and Allergy Association (NAAF) in close cooperation with NILU. – Air quality is a public concern, even in Norway, explains Nuría Castell Balaguer, scientist at NILU. – In Oslo we will measure a range of pollutants directly related to human health using low-cost sensor technologies. We will involve about 100 citizens in the city of Oslo for measuring by mobile sensors. By involving citizens in air quality investigations we expect to increase their understanding, and enable them to actively participate in societal decision making processes. We will closely collaborate with the Norwegian partners, SINTEF and Obeo as, who have a central role in the project.

CITI-SENSE is a Collaborative Project under EU FP7-ENV-2012, project n° 308524, with duration of four years, beginning in October 2012. The consortium comprises of academic/research institutions and SMEs from Europe, South Korea and Australia. The project also receives funding from the Norwegian Research Council.