There’s a single, bright north star we follow at Plume Labs: making air quality data accessible and empowering.

In the months since we launched Flow, we’ve been continually amazed at the stories of change we hear from our users—bringing their community together with compelling data, pushing their case and winning.

This month we want to share Aurélie’s story.

Setting the stage:

Toulon, France February 2016—Following a family illness, Aurélie started paying close attention to the quality of air in and around her home. Living just 400 meters away from the city’s bustling port, she suspected that exhaust fumes coming from the ferries that dock there very likely had been playing a role.

Step 1: Getting informed

As she started her investigations and research, she began to get connected with others in her community who were concerned about the air quality in the city. She quickly learned that the overall level of awareness and knowledge of air pollution in the city was limited—people living near the port were becoming concerned.

Step 2: Building a community, raising awareness

Aurélie began to get connect with them and together, they began approaching local media, writing letters, and lobbying the city to clean up the air. The population’s overall knowledge of air pollution was on the rise!

Step 3: Collecting evidence

Aurélie and the members of their informal clean air community began collecting more and more information about Toulon’s air quality, using sources like AtmoSud and the city’s own sensor network. The group quickly realised they needed to go beyond the monthly or annual averages they had up until then, to hyper-local data, in order to pinpoint where the smog was coming from—confirming or dispelling their suspicion that the port was a major polluter.

Step 4: Going public

To take things to the next level, Aurélie ordered Flow (Plume Labs’ personal air pollution sensor) and started measuring pollution levels around her house and neighborhood and recording the results. When French national news, FranceInfo launched its innovative #AlertePollution program to crowdsource pollution problems across the country, Aurélie and her community had the information and evidence they needed to break a national story.

Step 5: Making change

Aurélie contacted FranceInfo during their #AlertePollution campaign with her story and the information she had collected with her Flow. On January 19th, 2019, FranceInfo published a story on the quality of air in Toulon (French) and pointed the finger directly at the Ferry, Aurélie’s initial suspicions had been correct. The next day, the city of Toulon announced that it would be electrifying the port (French). And one month later, that announcement was made official (French). Toulon is taking dramatic action to improve the quality of air for all of its residents.

Step 6: Repeat

Aurélie’s is one of many stories of people coming together to make change—some that are still to be written. We can’t wait to hear yours!