AQ+ Co-Design 1: Understanding the Air Quality Challenge Using open data to shape Sheffield’s air quality ambitions

People from a wide range of organisations and interests joined the first Air Quality+ co-design workshop, exploring the potential uses of open data to understand, describe and address Sheffield’s air quality challenges and opportunities.

Participants explored data they own or have access to, and outlined wishlist data that they’d like to be able to access, thinking about data that measures air pollution as well as wider factors that contribute to the quality of air, and the consequences of changes to our air quality.

A starting point for discussion was the data released through the project so far, including the challenge of publishing data from Sheffield air quality monitoring stations. These record the levels of particulate pollutants around the city. The approach we have taken to opening up the data is technically challenging, but it does allow us to publish close to real-time data, to standards that allow it to be compared across cities, and in a form which enables much greater development and re-use.

Of course, the data alone does not effect change in the city.  By publishing it in an accessible form and with an open license, Air Quality+ aims to give people the tools for engaging with and understanding the issues – a key step to developing the activities, campaigns, services and products that will improve Sheffield life.

Challenges and Opportunities

With a common grounding in the Air Quality+ data landscape, participants formed teams to start defining key practical challenges to improving air quality in Sheffield. By starting to express stories and ambitions for the city’s air quality narrative, they began to identify practical actions, and potential impacts for the city, that could be driven and supported through better use of open data. From a wide range of ideas generated, the teams focused on three challenges:

  • Who Cares About Air? Making Pollution Personal. A schools programme to help children, parents and school staff to engage with the problem of air pollution and make it relevant to them.
  • Making Air Data Emotionally Relevant. A community engagement project with activities aimed at exploring the real world stories that bring data to life, and seeking to impact on individual behaviours.
  • Improving Local Air Quality using Smart Materials. Exploring the potential for using natural and manufactured smart building materials to mitigate air pollution. Determining what works, who wins, and at what cost.

Next Steps

Register for Air Quality+ Co-Design Workshop 2/3Eventbrite - Air Quality+ Co-Design Workshop 3/3

The next steps are to work up the Air Quality+ data landscape and to refine the challenges ahead of the Hack & Build Day on 14 March.

Over the next two workshops, as well as expanding the challenge set to take advantage of new opportunities opened up by a growing suite of usable data released through the project, we’ll also be diving deep into what is needed to make your responses to the challenges more sustainable.

Join us at the second (13 Feb) and third (13 March) workshops to continue the co-design journey and help shape the air quality challenges.

Danny Antrobus

Tends to do stuff about open data, voluntary sector, fundraising, comedy writing. Co-founder of The Better With Data Society @opensheffield.