TRAFAIR, a new project to study the impact of traffic on air quality

A new European consortium composed of nine organizations from Spain and Italy will develop innovative solutions to analyze the variability in traffic flows. The purpose is to offer citizens and administrations a robust, fast and reliable estimate of pollution levels and quality air.

400,000 people die annually in Europe because of pollution. A major public health problem that arises great concern in developed countries, where disorders associated with poor air quality are already the main environmental cause of premature death in the European Union.

The European Commission (EC) raised the alarm in 2013 with the launch of a new clean air policy package (Pure Air Package), which urged the Member States to take measures to ensure good air quality and safeguard public health. Thus, emission limits were established for one of the most polluting compounds, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), whose highest concentration comes from road traffic.

Five years later, and despite the efforts of the CE Administration, the situation is particularly critical today in some member states such as Spain and Italy, since they have repeatedly exceeded the limits set given their difficulties to meet the European goals. In this context of maximum urgency (cities such as Madrid have been forced to activate the anti-pollution protocol on several occasions over the past months) the European TRAFAIR research project emerged, a joint initiative between public administrations and universities of both countries that unite efforts to understand the impact that traffic flows have on air quality.

The project, in which CiTIUS (Singular Center for Research in Information Technology of the University of Santiago) participates, is presented as an alternative to optimize control strategies and increase social awareness of a growing problem. Its maximum responsible in Santiago, the researcher José Ramón Ríos Viqueira, explains the global objective of the consortium from its group in Campus Vida (COGRADE – Graphic Computing and Data Engineering): «what we intend with this project is to develop a new method capable of offer citizens and public administrations an optimal estimate of the degree of pollution, generated on the basis of different traffic conditions “; “the new tool will combine climate conditions, traffic flows and other emission sources to provide a fast and reliable estimate of the level of pollution at the urban scale, validating the results with an innovative and low-quality air quality sensor system cost”.

Galicia contributes three of the four Spanish partners

The new service, result of the research outcome of the TRAFAIR project, will be deployed in the Spanish cities of Santiago de Compostela and Zaragoza and the Italian cities of Florence, Modena, Livorno, and Pisa. The project is led by the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (UNIMORE) and includes nine partners, a total of four public institutions per country and one service company. Regarding the Spanish part, CESGA (Center of Supercomputing of Galicia), the City Council of Santiago de Compostela and the University of Zaragoza also participate alongside CiTIUS.

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