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Open up the data that could help Sheffield breathe easy

Friday 16 January 2015

A live band which plays to the beat of Sheffield’s traffic levels will show how we can harness the power of data to improve the city.

Residents, entrepreneurs and environmental groups will be able to gain a fascinating new insight into Sheffield’s air quality as previously unseen information is released for the first time by Sheffield City Council.

The council has joined forces with social enterprise The Better with Data Society to launch Air Quality+, a project that will open up access to vast amounts of the city’s data that could hold the key to the Sheffield’s environmental, social and economic challenges.

The project is calling for people with an interest in air quality and related issues, such as public health, transport and cycling, to help put the newly opened up data to good use in a series of public co-design workshops.

The first workshop takes place on Friday 23 January, 11am – 4pm, at The Showroom, Paternoster Row, Sheffield.

Participants will together identify uses for the data, which could range from proposals for changing public services to innovative new software and apps. Collaborators sharing their perspectives, expertise and skills include entrepreneurs, developers, environmental groups, designers, policy makers, place shapers, community champions, planners, data experts, hacktivists, public health professionals, cyclists, researchers and more.

Five artists have also been commissioned to produce new pieces inspired by the air quality data released by the project. Their artworks and insights from creating with the data will bring fresh perspectives to the workshop participants, before they showcase the interactive commissions at a public exhibition launch that evening from 6pm – 8pm in the Showroom Cafe.

Wearable pieces will communicate the burden of air pollution on the body; a bicycle will generate live music based on air pollution levels; and a breathalyser will visually compare what comes out of your lungs to the quality of air in the city.

Both events are free to attend, and booking via Eventbrite is essential for both the Workshop (during the day) and the Launch Event (early evening) on 23 January.

Further workshops will take place on 13 February and 13 March.

Jag Goraya, Director of the Better with Data Society, said: “Air quality is a growing concern in Sheffield. Across the city, there’s actually a lot of data being collected about air pollution, as well as its causes and consequences. Pulling that data together, making it accessible and usable for citizens and businesses – that’s essential to collectively understand the scale of challenge we face, and to be able to work together to find appropriate and sustainable solutions.”

Cllr Jayne Dunn, Cabinet Member for Environment, Recycling and Streetscene, said: “The council has been running an Air Aware campaign to educate local people about air quality, how they can help and how to protect themselves from the health risks of air pollution. We know that there is plenty of passion for this subject in Sheffield and hope that people will come forward to help us tackle the challenges we face.”