Air Quality Information Important for Krakovians
This year participatory budgeting was launched in Krakow. Krakow Smog Alert has prepared a project in screening of information on air pollution in public areas (a special LED screen installed in the city centre). The project gained public support. 60 000 people voted in the elections, and among them more than 24,000 supported Krakow Smog Alert's idea. Our project was chosen and it is going to be put into practice! The estimated cost of the project is EUR 75,000.
People feel motivated to participate when they are sure they will have influence on the final decision and when their concerns and recommendations are taken seriously. This is best reflected in mechanisms of direct democracy, such as participatory budgeting. Participatory budgeting provides citizens with an opportunity to decide about how the local government uses its budget. In contrast to public consultations, decisions made by citizens through participatory budgeting are binding and have to be put into practice by the local administration.
Social media have given us a powerful tool for drawing attention to an issue whose profile remained relatively low despite its big impact on urban dwellers' health, i.e. air quality. Among numerous awareness-raising activities, we have created a special „calculator” which extrapolates the amount of benzo[a]pyrene in Krakow’s air on the quantity of this substance in cigarettes (it turns out that every inhabitant of Krakow inhales annually the amount of benzo[a]pyrene equivalent to the amount contained in 2500 cigarettes...). Just after our campaign was launched, software designers got in touch with us and proposed mobile applications that now help residents track air conditions. Also the owner of the emission-free balloon, which offers a ride that gives passengers a sweeping panorama of the city, wishes to employ an innovative colour-changing system to broadcast an important message about air quality (just like in Paris). The number of people who monitor air-quality on a daily basis raises. Among them are teachers working in Krakow's kindergartens, who are obliged by the authorities to check it. If air condition is really poor, children do not go out (i.e. approximately for a half of the year)...
Air quality is a priority for Krakovians
The fight for clean air scored as first in a poll of most important issues for the city in the past 25 years. The poll was organized by the largest Polish daily: Gazeta Wyborcza. More than 22,000 people are engaged with our Facebook page, and a mass demonstration in the city centre drew hundreds of supporters. It is also worth mentioning that local elections are looming, therefore politicians start addressing the smog issue in their campaigns, claiming that better air quality is a priority for them.