The expansion of the Sars-Cov-2 virus at a global extent has led many countries to national lockdowns where most citizens and business stopped their daily activities and were called to remain at their domiciles. France established its first national lockdown on 17 March 2020. The reduction of economic activity led to a reduce of mobility in most urban centres. Mobility restrictions were smoothly lifted up on 10 May. As a consequence of the national lockdown, the concentrations of air pollutants related to traffic decreased in most cities, and this was the case for most of the urban centres in the Aix Marseille Métropole. Once lockdowns were lifted, more sustainable urban transport modes including the use of bikes and walking observed an increase on their usage. Most cities enlarged the areas dedicated to pedestrians and bicycles. However, in some cities, the usage of private vehicles has also increased in detriment of the use of public transport. A second French national lockdown started on 30 October 2020.
The national lockdown and the new social distancing rules have a clear impact on the development of the UIA DIAMS project, especially those activities related to public engagement. In January 2020 the citizen workshops started, as well as the activities with schools. However, there was a large period were those activities were put on halt due to the lockdown. After the summer school break, the activities with citizens have started slowly starting up again with a virtual participation option; but they have to put on halt again with the second national lockdown.
However, the team of the UIA DIAMS project worked hard to achieve their aims and progress has been done in other areas of the project. Those include the design of the telephone app that will be associated to the use of the small sensors to visualize the data for citizens and users to understand their measured levels; and the principles and the technical basis for the online exchange platform; among others.
In terms of challenges, the big challenge for the UIA DIAMS project is the ‘Participative approach for co-implementation´, especially with two of the biggest partners of the project. Moderate challenges for the project is the ‘Monitoring, evaluation and measurement’ but some steps forwards have put in place to remediate this. Overall, the UIA DIAMS project has most of the operational challenges in green and working hard on the implementation of the project despite the new public health recommendations.
1. Summary of the environmental legislation for air quality
2. The UIA DIAMS project in the air quality context
3. Summary of the air quality levels in 2020
4. Overview of the operational challenges
5. Lessons Learnt
6. Conclusions and challenge table
This second journal discusses the challenging times faced in this exceptional year, marked by the Covid-19 global pandemic, and how the DIAMS partners has been facing and overcoming them. Undoubtably, the Covid-19 pandemic had a great impact on the implementation of some of the activities as planned in the DIAMS project, especially those related to public engagement program. However, other parts of their engagement program, such as the design of the online service platform and the manufacture of the sensors with their telephone application, has been advanced and almost finalized.
The greatest challenge that UIA DIAMS project faces is the participative approach for implementation, with discrepancies between two leader partners. This has been ongoing since the first year of implementation of the project. The Métropole, as coordinator of the project, should try to mitigate this, especially to keep a consistent strategy across all partners.
The Métropole is working in the definition of certain qualitative and quantitative indicators to monitor, evaluate and measure the impact of DIAMS in the society, going beyond the achievements of the implementation of activities as designed by the DIAMS proposal.
Since early 2020, air quality is affirmed as a major issue of the Metropole’s environmental strategy and the political leadership challenge that DIAMS faced during the first year of implementation is now low for DIAMS, with a full commitment from political leads.