Five steps to better understand air quality in your neighbourhood

Step 1: Get informed

  • Check out resources that provide general information about air quality and about mapping air quality through citizen science. You can find a lot on our website. For information tailored for your neighbourhood: have a look at local newspapers, social media channels and local initiatives.
  • Find out where your nearest air quality monitoring station is (official or citizen-operated). You can use the hackAIR platform for this purpose.
  • Observe how air quality changes over time: We’ve described how to plot a time series of hackAIR sensor data. For Germany, you can find great visualisations of official air quality measurements at smogalarm.org.
  • If you want to compare the measurements to the official limit values for air pollution, you’ll need to look at the daily average of your measurements. Generally, daily averages above 50 µg/m³ for PM10 or 25 µg/m³ for PM2.5 can be a cause for concern.

Step 2: Observe in your neighbourhood

Take time for some walks or bike rides. Pay attention to the following details:

  • Where are regular traffic jams? What changes during rush hour? Where do you see idling because of traffic lights, road works or around schools?
  • Are there industry sites or large agricultural activities close to your neighbourhood?
  • What is the main source of heating that you and your neighbours use?
  • Which sources of air pollution are important in the area where you live (e.g. transport, industry, agriculture, wood burning)?

Step 3: Connect with others who are interested in mapping air quality

  • Find initiatives working on air quality in your neighbourhood or in your city (keywords for online search: air quality + name of your city; climate, mobility, smart cities…)
  • Local can mean: your street, your larger neighbourhood, your village or your city.
  • Take part in (or: organize) a roundtable conversation on air quality in your town.

Step 4: Learn from others

  • Find inspiring initiatives in other cities or countries.
  • You can check out best-practice examples on our blog and explore the Making Sense Toolkit.

Step 5: Contribute to mapping air quality in your neighbourhood

We are looking forward to hearing from you – what are you learning? What has surprised you? Get in touch with us, share your stories!