Collective intelligence supporting urban air quality

In the Dutch city of Eindhoven, Axians is taking part in the collaborative AirEAS project, which gives citizens access to real time information on air quality in their neighbourhoods. The next step will be to introduce dynamic traffic control based on this data.

A number of urban areas have been able to bounce back from a decline in their traditional industries and become creative cities that attract innovators. When the two largest employers in the southern Dutch city of Eindhoven – electronics giant Philips and truck manufacturer DAF – undertook major restructuring operations in the 1990s, the city turned to the high-tech and design sectors and then gradually to the network economy. Eindhoven now ranks in third place on the list of Europe’s most attractive cities for foreign direct investment and accounts for one-half of the country’s research activity.

A citizens’ initiative

An approach to innovation based on sharing and cooperation is taking shape there. Eindhoven offers fertile terrain for experiments in a wide range of initiatives involving the local population, city authorities, research institutions and businesses, with a special focus on innovative projects based on behavioural change. One example is the AirEAS project, in which Axians, the VINCI Energies brand specialising in ICT (information and communication technology) solutions and services, is involved. The AirEAS system measures air quality in real time at some 30 points around the city. “This is a citizens’ initiative,” says Jean-Paul Close, who launched the Eindhoven project with the civic organisation he set up, the STIR Foundation, which fosters local responses to global issues. “The ultimate goal of all the participants – citizens, civil servants, researchers, developers and managers alike – is to improve public health in the city.”

“Eindhoven lends itself to a project like this one,” says Genio Van Hoof, Sales and Operations Manager at Axians in the Netherlands. “The city has a University of Technology and 8,000 people work at the High Tech Campus, the Philips research centre. In addition, Eindhoven is very open to new behaviours and to the smart city model that focuses on the citizen and offers unprecedented citizen services.”