The WeCount project, an EU-funded Research and Innovation Action, endeavoured to engage residents and to generate data and momentum, while supporting research on street safety and pollution.
Noise, air pollution and safety are just a few of the harmful impacts of traffic congestion. Campaigns for reducing traffic have long highlighted the perils of these for all urban residents, not only the causes of the problems. The associated effects have repercussions for public transport users and pedestrians alike. As the links between air quality and global health become increasingly apparent, congestion is high on everyone’s agenda.
Projects pioneered by the partners involved in WeCount have demonstrated the utility of small-scale, people-led, technologies. From Dublin to Barcelona, Ljubljana to Leuven, sensors are proving instrumental for recording vehicle counts, thus arming residents with the data and knowledge they need to partner with local authorities to coordinate improvements to neighbourhood traffic.
As the WeCount project officially comes to an end, the partners reflected on the project’s main results, drafting policy recommendations that built upon the evidence from the real-life examples trialled in the project. These demonstrated how to achieve change by proactively engaging local residents in co-designing local traffic policies.
WeCount explored innovative citizen-science methodologies and tools and identified which were effective in empowering people to influence policy-making processes. As citizen participation in science and urban mobility gains traction, challenges to enabling such engagement arise. The approaches used must be well-designed and carefully implemented to empower people to use data to advocate for behavioural and policy change.
Involving people in science projects is beneficial only if their contribution is recognisable and well-identifiable in the results of the project. Simply handing out tools (in this case, traffic counting sensors) is not sufficient. Engagement activities must also be in place to inform people about how to become involved and use the information.
WeCount’s second Policy Brief reached the following conclusions:
- Citizen science is an invaluable tool for bottom-up policy development in urban mobility.
- The EU should continue to fund citizen science research and innovation projects, backed by strategic policy and institutional support, to support the alignment of urban mobility policies with the European Green Deal.
- Citizen science engagement methodologies can assist with the development of Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) by helping there to be a more inclusive, people-centred, policy-making process.
This article originally appeared on POLIS Network.
- Publication date
- 13 December 2021
- Public and stakeholder involvement