Human Perspectives

Below is a list of recommendations and considerations extrapolated from across the Competency Group discussions. Many of them represent recurring themes, distilled to their key points. Crucially, this list does not represent a complete, costed set of policies, and externalities remain for the most part unconsidered. The point is, in line with the ‘Human Perspectives’ ethos, to identify in raw terms what people want in regards to addressing air pollution, and therefore what a human-oriented management approach unfettered by financial and political considerations might look like.

 

The considerations are categorised under 4 key themes: access to information, infrastructure changes, new tools and changes in focus. In practice, these themes often crossover.

 

Access to information 

In order to answer the question of what matters to people, it is important to identify what kinds of information is desired and required by different actors. There was broad consensus that 1. greater understanding of what members of the public want to know will help technical practitioners and policy-makers furnish them with relevant information. 2. Members of the public need better channels for making their own ideas and needs heard and understood by policy-makers. As such, there is a need for:

  • Investment in an easy-to-find, public-facing website that provides more spatially and temporally granular information on . This could include

    1. Information on active sensors in the city and their live readings

    2. Information and recommendations regarding clean and safe cycle routes through the city with easy-to-follow resources.

      1. Coordinate with https://change4climate.uk/travel/ 

    3. One potential solution might be replicating LondonAir’s model or subscribing to API like Breezometer or Plume. 

 

Some of these services are already provided by the existing Oxfordshire website (https://oxfordshire.air-quality.info/) but it was acknowledged that this platform requires significant revisions and much greater public visibility.

  • The provision of publicly accessible daily forecasts and ‘broad brush’ information regarding the condition of local .

    1. Examples given included the availability of daily AQ updates in local newspapers, as seen already in London’s free newspapers; or the availability of interactive street signs giving ready information on local conditions or indicating polluting behaviour in the same vein as LED speeding signs.

 

Infrastructure changes

These are ideas put forward by members of the CG of potentially transformative changes to residents’ livelihoods, that require some investment into existing infrastructure. 

  • A ban on picking up and dropping off children within 300m of school

    1. “...far too many of the private schools certainly in our area of fast conglomerations of traffic, dropping off children right at school entrances. This causes a lot of local pollution. And I'm sure there are lots of other things like that, which as a group, we could perhaps suggest to the councillors and the powers that be”  - OxAir CG Session 4 

    2. Work with another local organisation (Livable Streets, OxFOE) to establish a campaign & band together residents in a group committed to not dropping within 300 meters of school. 

    3. Promote alternative routes to school such as walking, cycling and buses. Support parents to organise group transportation of children to school by foot or on bikes. 

    4. Promote School Streets as a concept 

      1. This is currently being trialed at one or more state primary schools across Oxford - review results & propose additional schools.

    5. Improve options for individuals travelling from rural areas (e.g. park and stride advice/options

  • Introduction of resident-only streets. 

    1. ‘I saw this morning on my walk it in Jericho - St Bernards road - has signs at the entrance: ‘resident-only streets’. Current rat runs would be much less polluted if those could be introduced more generally. It wouldn’t cost a lot of money and it would be politically very popular’.

    2. Particular attention should be paid to public perception in areas where this has been implemented. This type of monitoring is useful for policymakers, but also prompts greater public conversation. Florence Park and St Mary’s were given as examples.

 

New Tools

These suggestions refer to the provision of new tools and resources that would fulfil existing information needs of public, practitioner and policymaker alike.

  • Provide access to portable monitoring equipment that is scientifically valid & helpful for examining in areas of concern.

    1. This would enable ongoing use of portable sensors and engagement of Oxford residents in sensing practices. Various ideas were raised such as borrowing schemes or more organised activities that utilize the sensors purchased for the OxAir project. New partnerships between the city council, university and local organisations could produce innovative local schemes for public access to sensing technology. 

    2. This would likely require additional funding.  

  • Investment in the OxAir ‘Map of Anecdotes’ 

    1. The Map of Anecdotes received widespread support from the group for its ability to allow citizens to corroborate their concerns and communicate them to central management. This would act as an effective public engagement tool which could also enable better governance by identifying ‘hotspot’ areas.

    2. This could require hosting and development support from Oxfordshire County Council and/or Oxford City Council. As stated previously, the capacity of the website would need significant improvements.

 

Changes in focus

 

These recommendations suggest, in a broader sense, changes to the ways in which AQ is understood and engaged in centralised management practices. They thus call for a more holistic reevaluation of current protocols than previous suggestions.

  • Focus on clean indoor air 

    1. There should be greater connectivity between the ways that AQ is monitored and managed outdoors and indoors, reflecting individuals’ changing exposure from home, to work, and back. 

    2. Partnership with landlords, employers, etc. could lead to more ‘joined up’ conceptualisation of exposure as well as practical efforts to mitigate it. There should also be some accountability in the former to ensure safe conditions.

  • Local government should make use of existing local networks.

    1. Participants often mentioned networks of local organisations, parents, and campaigns who would make ready partners in identifying and implementing areas for local change. This is especially the case during discussion of school drop-off, for example.

  • Focus on promoting active travel

    1. Particularly within the context of short-distance commuting and travel to and from school.

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