Save Our Air

Save Our Air

Save Our Air is a collaborative research project developed by the Public Data Lab and supported by OrganiCity

SaveOurAir is an exploration of the social and political aspects of smart cities. Focussing on air quality, SaveOurAir explored three ways to make urban data more "local" and "politically relevant" and developed three experiments in data activation.
The collaborative work led to the production of three prototypes: a digital platform/social network (Mobilizing Our Air), a teaching toolkit/measuring device (My Air) and an interactive/data collection protocol (Hot Potato Machine).

Find more about each prototype and the overall process on the website.

Project Initiator: Anders Koed Madsen. Contributor: Anders Kristian Munk.



Save our Air - My Air project from Techno-Anthropology Lab CPH on Vimeo.

We considered the possible uses of air-quality datasets in urban governance from the viewpoint of social and creative research, but instead of pointing at the obvious shortcomings of those datasets, instead of showing how they betray the complex relations between social groups and natural environments, we decided to play along and give a chance to the idea that more and better data can improve public debate.

Testing a plurality of situating strategies is important because it opens the air quality debate to a greater diversity of data, actors and issues. By being situated, the question of air quality becomes active in several other social and environmental issues and vice versa. Connecting data to specific political situations reveals how the question is never just about atmospheric pollution, but always also about urban nature, housing offer, transportation models, social and economic asymmetries, and the many other conversations among different actors and in different sites that we ought to have about public life in the city.

Below are the three experiments in data activation, three ways in which urban data was made more "local" and "politically relevant".

My Air:

We combined an air quality sensor and a mobile phone to trace the air inhaled by secondary school pupils in Copenhagen. Anchoring the data not only in space but also in time personalizes air quality and situates it in personal biographies and in collective enquiries. See more.

Mobilizing Our Air:

We situated the issue of air quality within a larger landscape of public concerns. Read more.

Hot Potato Machine:

We traced the finger-pointing between different institutions revealing how they apportion responsibility for taking action to do address air pollution. Find out more.