European and National laws oblige local authorities to monitor urban pollution, this includes atmospheric, acoustic and electromagnetic pollution. Fixed monitoring stations enable local authorities to comply with the obligation for checking atmospheric emissions, but are not satisfactory with respect to noise or electromagnetic pollution. Furthermore, the fixed stations are very expensive, so there are few of them and their distribution throughout cities are often not sufficient to provide significant data on the pollution distribution and concentration. Periodical survey campaigns are necessary to check the pollution situation. The results of two LIFE projects are relevant in this respect: RESOLUTION (LIFE99 ENV/IT/00081 – concluded) and ARTEMIDE (LIFE00 ENV/IT/000005 still in progress).
The project would demonstrate:
- the existence of elevated concentrations of pollution in urban areas which are unable to be monitored by the common fixed monitoring stations and consequently require direct dynamic monitoring;
- the possibility for dynamic measurement with newly developed solid state sensors and;
- the possibility to superimpose all effects of pollution, establishing a global impact index with eventual correlation between the various measured concentrations.
To do this, the project would construct and test a mobile station for monitoring the state of the air pollution that can:
- collect data, simultaneously and in real time, about the atmospheric emissions, noise and electromagnetic pollution and;
- transmit them to a Control Centre. The data collected by the mobile measuring system would be elaborated in order to:
- produce thematic maps for atmospheric, acoustic and electromagnetic pollution covering the entire road urban network and;
- realise an informative system about the state of the environment.
ECO-EXPLORER is a measuring system, direct, continuous, in real time, simultaneous and integrated, of atmospheric, acoustic and electromagnetic pollution, covering the entire road network. It is composed of small measurement modules, one for each environmental variable of interest, all integrated together, lodged within a container of reduced dimensions for easy installation on any mobile means already being used in public services. The mobile station can be installed on public buses, taxis, specific cars and even on bikes.
A Control Centre is able to elaborate the collected data and issue thematic pollution maps. It can also generate alarms and send the elaborated data to an information system for the attention of the public authorities and citizens.
The results of the project can be summarised as follows:
The system does not have high operating costs, because the mobile stations do not generally require an operator. The system was tested with two field campaigns with good results. The comparison between the innovative sensors performance with the conventional fixed stations gave good results: a correlation coefficient always greater than 65% and very often greater than 80-90%.
A global impact index of the pollution has been defined, but it needs a much greater amount of data to be completely validated.
The interconnections with local authorities and the information system for the citizens have been done. Since the mobile prototype has been tested with good results, the applicability to other urban situations is possible. However, the validation of the final results has not been completed yet, because of the insufficient collection of data.
It will be interesting to check within three years what results have been obtained by the Venice Municipality who are currently operating the system. It will also be interesting to find out the results obtained in other EU cities who may take the system on board and China: six mobile Eco-explorer units, placed on bicycles and mopeds, were set up to go around the city of Suzhou, close to Shangai (Sister City of Venice once named by Marco Polo “Venice of the Orient”) plotting the quality of the air. This pilot project, AQMS - Air Quality Management System - was carried out by the Institute for Air Pollution of the National Council of Research and promoted by the Italian Environmental Ministry together with the Chinese Environmental Agency (Sepa). It was expected that the project could be extended to other Chinese cities.