Free air quality alerts for the people of Riga
The World Health Organisation warns that air pollution is a major global cause of death and disease, and in sensitive people short-term exposure can lead to reduced lung function, respiratory infections and aggravated asthma. Air pollution levels can vary greatly in just a few hours. From 27 February residents of Riga benefit from a new free service Riga airTEXT, which provides air quality alerts.
Riga airTEXT informs the public with free air quality alerts by text message and emails. Air quality forecasts up to three days ahead are available online at www.rigaairtext.lv and in a free phone app. Information is also available from the Riga airTEXT Facebook and Twitter pages.
Now thanks to Riga airTEXT the public can prepare in advance for short-term periods of poor air quality. People with asthma or heart disease can take positive steps, like keeping an asthma inhaler nearby or avoiding strenuous outdoor activity.
A cutting-edge computer system automatically combines state-of-the-art satellite observations, air quality forecasts for Europe from the EU Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) and ultra-high-resolution air quality forecasts for Riga from the world-leading system ADMS-Urban. ADMS-Urban simulates pollution dispersion and chemical reactions in large urban areas, accounting for thousands of individual sources and the complex air flow produced by buildings and streets. The result is an astonishingly detailed map of air pollution, with more than 100,000 data points.
Evija Piņķe, Head of Environmental Division of Housing and Environmental Department of Riga City Council stressed: “Riga’s belonging to Smart Cities community is signified by high quality of life, innovative economy, smart and efficient resource consumption and modern government which is based on IT technologies and active participation of stakeholders. Air quality forecasting system Riga airTEXT fits very well into this government system as it uses technology to reach out to all Riga residents and visitors, for whom this might be necessary”.
Deputy State Secretary of Latvian Ministry of Environmental and Regional Development Alda Ozola noted: “Air quality management is one of key priorities of environmental protection policy in Latvian and the EU. Provision of information on air quality to the citizens, including alerts on possible short-term pollution accidents, is an important element of this policy. Riga airTEXT is a good way to show that air quality is not only policy documents, legal acts and scientific reports, but a vital factors in our everyday life, which often is taken for granted, while having significant impact of human health. Now Riga citizens will have access to important air quality data presented in the modern and user-friendly manner."
Richard Engelen, Deputy Head of CAMS, said “The Riga airTEXT service is a prime example of how the CAMS services can be used to support local citizens. Small and medium-sized enterprises using the data for new services at country and city-level is key to the success of the Copernicus programme.”
David Carruthers of CERC, the scientific director of Riga airTEXT, said “We are delighted to work with our partners in Latvia and at CAMS to provide the people of Riga with the best possible warning of air pollution episodes.”
Riga airTEXT has been developed by UK and Latvian scientists from Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants (CERC) and SIA Estonian, Lithuanian and Latvian Environment (ELLE) with financial support from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS). CAMS is part of the European Union's Copernicus Earth Observation Programme and is implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). Riga City Council and the Latvian Ministry of Environment are working closely with the Riga airTEXT team to ensure that the service meets the needs of the public.
Riga airTEXT developers and partners at Riga airTEXT launching event on February 28, 2018 (from left: J.Kleperis (Riga City Council Housing and Environment Department), D.Carruthers (CERC), E.Piņķe (Riga City Council Housing and Environment Department), R.Engelen (ECMWF), C.Zehner (European Space Agency (ESA)), A.Ozola (Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development), V.Vilnītis (ELLE), J.Doktorova (ELLE), A.Stidworthy (CERC))
www.rigaairtext.lv, Twitter: @ airTEXT_Centrs, Facebook: @RigaAirTEXT