The new mobile air pollution sensor, Source: City of Helsinki

Helsinki plans to collect the world’s most accurate air quality data

Helsinki plans to collect the world’s most accurate air quality data

Residents will carry portable devices that measure air pollution levels as part of the city’s HOPE project

The Finnish City of Helsinki has developed a new network of mobile air pollution sensors. These novel devices will be tested in Helsinki’s latest project, Healthy Outdoor Premises for Everyone (HOPE). Pairing the new mobile sensors with the city’s existing network of measuring devices, the capital hopes to soon collect the world’s most accurate air quality data.  

Over 150 residents will carry portable sensors

Helsinki’s new initiative is unique in that it aims to educate inhabitants about air pollution by involving them in the project. Expanding on this, over 150 residents will now help the capital measure the local air pollution levels by carrying portable sensors on their daily routes. In this way, Helsinki seeks to make new observations and gain a better understanding of which areas are “hotspots” for poor air quality.

HOPE’s Project Manager Jussi Kulonpalo commented on the mobilisation of city dwellers, noting: “Involving and encouraging residents to consider everyday choices that affect the air quality of their own living environment and, more broadly, emissions, is at the heart of the project. The city’s preventative measures, together with the residents’ sustainable choices, have the most successful effect on local air quality.”

More work needs to be done to ensure cleaner air

The project will focus on three districts, each of which faces different challenges. More specifically, data will be collected from the Jätkäsaari district which has heavy port-related traffic, the Mäkelänkatu street in Vallila which acts as an urban street canyon, and the Suburban Pakila area which is affected by over 100,000 vehicles and domestic wood burning.

On Helsinki’s website, Deputy Mayor Anni Sinnemäki explains the motivation behind this initiative, sharing that although the air quality in the region is satisfactory, more work needs to be done. Taking this further, Sinnemäki revealed that air pollution still affects a large number of people each year as over 2,000 individuals die from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases caused by poor air quality.

The HOPE project is led by the City of Helsinki and funded by the EU’s Urban Innovative Actions programme. The University of Helsinki, Vaisala Oyj, Helsinki Region Environmental Services HSY, the Finnish Meteorological Institute, UseLess Company Oy and Forum Virium Helsinki are also involved in this innovative initiative.

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