The dilemmas of the smart citizen

On Monday 24 March 2014 more than seventy people gathered at the Waag that are going to try to measure the air quality in the city with affordable electronics. Together they will experiment to answer questions like: can we get a reliable picture of air quality in the city and: are these sensors producing useful information?

It is nice that the City of Amsterdam enables its citizens to start measuring at their homes and possibly proving that the situation in their street or area needs to change. Many of these problems are related to the local traffic situation.

The Smart Citizen Kit measures two toxic emission gasses: carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. That the levels of these gasses matter can be found in the official data: Amsterdam has one of the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide in Europe.

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At this moment it is important to get as many sensor kits online as possible. This is not a simple thing. Our smart citizens have to configure the equipment themselves and it is not the kind of 'plug and play' electronics that they might expect. To get things working, a number of steps is needed and is asking for perseverance at the side of the participants.

We hope to get everyone online within a few weeks, to be able to analyse the results of our experiment next June.