Air quality politics

In European visions on the digital society, the notion of the ‘smart citizen’ is generally evoked. Smart citizens are citizens who use data-gathering digital technologies that enable them to be more empowered within their everyday environments. In this series of blog posts, we investigate this presumed relationship between data and power by looking at one particular domain: air quality.

What types of citizen engagement can we observe around new methods to gather and share data on air quality? What types of issues are raised by this data, what kinds of solutions do they point at and who gets empowered by them?

We don’t expect to find one definite answer to these questions. Instead, we seek to disentangle the positions of power upheld by different stakeholders in the air quality domain. We talk with representatives of municipal and national scientific air monitoring institutes, with organisations that motivate citizens to measure on their own accord, with startups seeking to develop profit-models around air quality measurement, and of course, with citizens themselves. How do all these actors position themselves within the social, political, and chemical domain we call ‘air quality’?