Due to growing industry, traffic and high population density, in big cities there are many regions with constantly exceeded permitted concentrations of pollutants. Even more common are regions, where pollution is occasionally exceeding norms because of traffic spikes or weather effects (e.g. air inversion in valleys or basins surrounded by mountains). The problem is that most of the people are not aware of effects of longterm exposure to overly polluted air. A study made in 2012 reported that around 7 milion people died as a result of air pollution exposure. This was largely due to the fact that long exposers can cause or deteriorate many diseases. Regions that are the most endangered are low- and middle- income countries in South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions. (WHO 2012)
In Slovenia, concentrations of PM2.5 and PM10 (particulate matter – small mostly solid particles) exceed permitted levels. (ARSO 2013) The main source of PM2.5 and PM10 pollution are traditional fireplaces used in home households. Currently, there are two air quality stations in Ljubljana, which is hardly enough to see the actual quality of air. While we were searching for additional information about the mentioned issues, we noticed the lack of easily understandable data for average users, thus we started designing a concept for a mobile application (based on Android operating system) for an accurate, yet simply explicable air pollution visualization.
CITI-SENSE is a European project that is developing a sensor-based citizens' observatory community for improving quality of life in cities. An important goal of the project is to ensure an easy community feedback, which will have a large impact on the development of the project. (CITI-SENSE 2012) Plans for the near future are to spread the air quality measuring systems in numerous public institutions and to develop a user-friendly sensor unit, which will be connected to the network of stations. Within the project there will be around 20-30 outdoor measuring units installed in each city. ). A part of the project goals is measuring air quality in schools, informing students about the problem and empower them to help improve air quality. Our school Gimnazija Vic is one of three Slovenian schools, which cooperate with two of Jozef Stefan Institute’s researchers, Dr. David Kocman and a foreign postgraduate student Johanna Robinson. At our school, more than 15 students of different ages are working on various related smaller projects, events and researches like developing a smartphone application, measuring the quality of air, sharing flyers, baking cookies, making posters, etc. As a result, our school was chosen as the reference school for all of the schools involved in the CITI-SENSE project.