Authors:Christian Oltra (CIEMAT- Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnológicas)
Irene Eleta (CREAL-ISGlobal)
Roser Sala (CIEMAT-CISOT)
Paper short abstract:
This study focuses on the attitudes and reactions of lay people before and after an engagement activity for monitoring their personal exposure to air pollution with sensors. The qualitative analysis of focus groups unveils risk beliefs, challenges and opportunities for a citizen science approach.
Paper long abstract:
Citizen science and participatory environmental sensing are emerging as promising approaches for urban air quality management, given their potential to improve the engagement of the public with environmental issues and encourage healthier behaviors. However, some projects start developing and deploying air quality sensors for their use by non-experts without having a strategy about what understanding and behaviors they seek to facilitate. This study explores the experiences, perceptions and attitudes of 18 participants that used a real-time NO2 sensor during a period of seven days in the metropolitan area of Barcelona. The sample of participants monitoring their personal exposure to NO2 included 6 people already concerned with the problem of air pollution and 12 people that were not. The qualitative research design was based on three focus groups, which met at the beginning and at the end of the seven-day activity. The preliminary analysis focuses on the changes in risk beliefs and behavioral intentions associated to air pollution. The results can inform the design of strategies and devices for participatory environmental sensing and citizen science projects in public health. Also, it contributes to our understanding of technology design as an instrument of perception -turning visible the invisible-, persuasion and behavioral change.
Citizen science: Beyond the laboratory