Engaging citizens in air quaility projects is crucial to induce behavioural change and make a positive impact on the society. By giving the tools to understand the problem, understand the sources and highlighting what we can do to improve and how, evidence-based decisions can be made by all. However, one of the main challenges to involve general public and citizens in the topic of air quality is the lack of sense of air pollution. One cannot see it, either touch it and very rarely smell it. Poor air quality levels are shown by main Environmental Agencies in colourful dots in a map. What how these scattered points in a city or an area can attract the attention of everyone? What is the impact of poor air quality on everyone’s life?
The workshops run in the Living Lab are one of the main core activities to communicate with beneficiaries within the funded Urban Innovative Action (UIA) - DIgital Alliance for Marseille Sustainability (DIAMS) project. UIA-DIAMS aims to engage citizens (and all parts of the society, from policy makers to industries, from students to start-ups) to increase their knowledge about the problematic of air quality in cities to eventually create a series of local policies to improve the air we breathe. The project sits on the idea of creating a digital platform for exchanging air quality data (measurements) and digital services (apps, webs, etc.). UIA-DIAMS aims to transform the environmental policies by making use of the digital revolution for better and more efficient local action plans. A Lab in the AIR is the partner in the UIA-DIAMS project in charge with the engagement program with citizens.
The aim of the workshops run in the Living Lab is to overcome this lack of sense of air pollution measurments. First of all, an understanding what air pollution is and why it is bad for our health and also for the ecosystems around us is needed. Where is it coming from? What we can do to combat it? Furthermore, these workshops are aiming to create a sense of community with every actor working on its competences.
By increasing the knowledge and providing the citizens with the means to measure the levels of air pollutants they are breathing, by giving a personalized sense to measurements, citizens will be feeling to engage, participate and find solutions. Like this, better and collaborative solutions can be designed.