Report: Internet and social media for environmental monitoring


hackAIR partners organised a workshop on “Internet and social media for environmental monitoring” at the 3rd International Conference on Internet Science in Florence, Italy on 12 September 2016. The purpose of the workshop was to present relevant works in the area of environmental monitoring based on data and content from the web and user-generated content posted in social media, as well as to discuss needs from end users and environmental experts in the context of exploiting user generated content and web resources for air quality issues.

Claudio Cavallaro (Politecnico di Milano) presented his work on “Compressing Web geodata for real-time environmental applications”. Claudio presented a two-stage approach for the compression of Digital Elevation Model (DEM) data and geographic entities for a mountain environment monitoring mobile AR application. The proposed method is generic and could be applied to other types of geographical data.

Hai-Ying Liu (Norwegian Institute for Air Research – NILU) gave an overview on her work on “Analysis of public interest in environmental health information: fine-tuning content for dissemination via social media”. The findings of this study highlight the importance of up-to-date informational content, the use of visual con-tent and the role of features for interaction and dialogue to ensure user engagement with a Facebook page on environmental health or citizen science.

Anastasia Moumtzidou (Centre for Research & Technology Hellas – Information Technologies Institute (CERTH-ITI)) presented her work “Towards air quality estimation using collected multimodal environmental data”. Her work is about the development of an open platform, which collects multimodal environmental data related to air quality from several sources including official open sources, social media and citizens.

Panagiota Syropoulou (DRAXIS) introduced her team’s work on the development of a mobile application that offers “Personalised air quality information based on open environmental data and user-generated information”. The proposed application, called ENVI4ALL, offers direct access to personalised and localised information on air quality (current, forecast, and historical), making use of diverse sources of large datasets of open air quality data, and crowdsourced information on the perception of app users about the current air quality.

Interesting points from the open discussion

  • An important challenge for a solution like hackAIR emerges from the fact that most of the public authorities are reluctant to release air quality information for their area. Anyone who wants to provoke policy change towards cleaner air should convince public authorities to publish information on local air quality.
  • An interesting example of using citizens as “sensors” is that of the UK government where citizens can use a specific hashtag at social media to report the level of the snow in their area. The government collects all this information to create a dynamic map of the snow level across UK.
  • Regarding the hackAIR solution, some participants expressed their interest to see also air quality forecasts as this information would be valuable for the protection of their health.

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