Join iSPEX-EU and Measure Air Pollution with your Smartphone

The iSPEX and LIGHT2015 projects organize the first Europe-wide citizen-science photonics experiment to measure air pollution using smartphones from 1 September to 15 October 2015. With the iSPEX add-on and app, you can transform your smartphone into a scientific tool to measure tiny particles in the atmosphere that contribute to air pollution and its impacts in an as-yet poorly understood way. iSPEX-EU forms a network of thousands of people all over Europe that perform iSPEX measurements and provide information at locations and times that are not covered by current air pollution monitoring efforts – and we need your help! By joining iSPEX-EU you can be part of a major project to help understand our atmosphere and make an important scientific contribution!

iSPEX is a passive spectropolarimetric add-on for smartphones that uses the phone’s camera, sensors, computing and communications capabilities. The application of iSPEX is two-fold: 1) It enables crowd-sourced measurements of tiny atmospheric particles, also known as aerosols, at locations and times that are not covered by current air pollution monitoring efforts. 2) It makes atmospheric science accessible to everyone, by active participation in scientific measurements.

The iSPEX app instructs participants to scan the cloud-free sky while the phone’s built-in camera takes pictures through the add-on. Each picture taken through the iSPEX add-on contains information on both the spectrum and the linear polarization of the incident, scattered sunlight. The measured degree of linear polarisation as a function of wavelength and, obtained by pointing the phone at different directions in the sky, as a function of scattering angle, yields unique information on fundamental aerosol properties, including the amount of aerosol, and also the particle size distribution and the chemical composition. This type of measurement is crucial in assessing the impacts of atmospheric aerosols on health, environment and air traffic.

With the advent of smartphones and the development of iSPEX citizens can now contribute to these crucial measurements and together form a flexible network that can deliver measurements everywhere, even where no specialised equipment is available, and at any daylight hour. The active involvement of citizens in an important and real scientific experiment, pioneering a new form of citizen science where participants carry out complex, simultaneous mass-measurements, is the most important aspect of this project.

Following an initial citizen science campaign in the Netherlands in 2013, where thousands of participants took measurements of Dutch air pollution, the iSPEX project is now crossing borders with a first Europe-wide citizen campaign: iSPEX-EU. This campaign will run from 1 September to 15 October 2015, in major cities in Europe: Athens, Barcelona, Belgrade, Berlin, Copenhagen, London, Manchester, Milan, and Rome.

It is expected that the collected data will lead to scientific publications that will be made accessible to the general public. A live online map will show qualitative results of the experiment.

For more information visit www.ispex-eu.org and www.europe.light2015.org. Follow also the twitter @ispex_eu and @LIGHT2015Europe accounts for the latest updates.

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