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App teaches Helsinki citizens about pollution

The crowdsourced noise data is collected by smartphone microphones and users must activate the function

The Helsinki Ambiciti walk was open to all those interested in the urban environment
The Helsinki Ambiciti walk was open to all those interested in the urban environment

Helsinki residents have participated in the first city ‘walk’ using an app designed to educate them about street-level air and noise pollution.


The event held in the Finnish capital was open to everyone interested in the urban environment and wellbeing and was organised in collaboration with EIT Digital, Forum Virium Helsinki and Ambiciti, a global environmental data service.


“Ambiciti is the first worldwide free collaborative application for noise and air pollution data at a street-level resolution,” said Valerie Issarny, co-founder of Ambiciti.


“It provides the access to the air pollution levels of the users’ home street and routes and allows them to plan their routes as to minimise the exposure pollution.”


The participants of the first Helsinki Ambiciti walk measured noise pollution with their smartphones during a 2km long walk organised in the surroundings of one of the busiest entry routes to the city during the morning rush hour peak.


After the walk, measurements were collected, merged to the pre-computed models and pollution exposure during the walk analysed.


Ambiciti computes the hourly air pollution maps for the current and the four next days. Maps are created by mathematical models that are calibrated with local effective measurements when available.


In Helsinki, the base data on air pollution, buildings, and traffic is obtained from the open data provided by the city of Helsinki authorities and amended with additional data from the city planning department.


Models include data related to meteorology dynamics and urban morphology such as transport streams regarding time, noise or air emissions and air pollution imported from distant locations to the city.


Traffic data is used for noise and air pollution models and residential and industrial data for computing air pollution models. Further, the models integrate physical specificities of areas such as streets and urban canyons, buildings, and compute the propagation of pollutants in the streets.


The street level noise data can be calibrated with data gathered by Ambiciti’s mobile application users.


Ambiciti has already been introduced in Paris (France) and the San Francisco Bay Area (US). The next Helsinki walk is already planned for the autumn.


The Ambiciti application and service are outcomes from the EIT Digital Digital Cities Action Line’s Innovation Activities. Ambiciti Innovation Activity is led by the French National Institute for computer science and applied mathematics.


In Helsinki, Forum Virium Helsinki consults the local data needed for pollution model computing, organises local pilots and manages data standardisation.


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