Who should measure air quality in modern cities? The example of decentralization of urban air quality monitoring in Krasnoyarsk (Siberia, Russia)

Lev D. Labzovskii, Joshua Vande Hey, Aleksey A. Romanov, Polina Golovatina-Mora, Dmitriy Belikov, Azam Lashkari, Samuel Takele Kenea, Erik Hekman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle in an indexed scientific journalpeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Researchers have warned that the paradigm about who should measure air quality (AQ) in cities can change as low-cost commercial sensors for monitoring atmospheric composition gain global popularity. The new paradigm implies the expansion of the traditionally governmental responsibilities for AQ monitoring (to collect, interpret, and explain the data) to previously uninvolved actors. This study reports a first practical example of such changed AQ paradigm that occurred in a large industrial city of Krasnoyarsk (Russia). We describe how severe problems with urban AQ and a limited access to the AQ data from governmental sensors triggered decentralization of the AQ monitoring in the city. The decentralization is manifested by the fact that both governmental network and crowdfund-based activist AQ network, are being used for scientific and, to some extent, advisory purposes. The decentralization was foremost established due to the ambiguous quantitative information about AQ provided to users by the governmental network, exacerbated by efficient alternatives for alleviating this gap, offered by the activists. The unique decentralization of AQ monitoring in Krasnoyarsk can transform into the synergy between the government and citizen action aimed on easing air pollution as the governmental organizations can efficiently reinforce the resources (funds and manpower), and provide legal and technical support, while civic action groups with established audience can consolidate targeted groups of citizens for formulating efficient city-wide strategies in AQ management. Such synergy can become an inspiring example for the cities with degraded AQ, where the official monitoring is plagued by financial or technological limitations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-103
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
StatePublished - Feb 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

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  • Aerosol
  • Air quality
  • Citizen science
  • Remote sensing
  • Siberia


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