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Graphic element Research > Growth > Research projects > Measurements & testing projects > In good measure
Graphic element In good measure
    29-05-2002
 
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Metropolis is a network of 38 scientific institutions in 17 European countries, developing an interdisciplinary approach to measurements and their reliability in environmental monitoring. Over two years the network will study, analyse and disseminate as widely as possible the best metrology practices, from all aspects of the environment. The aim is to improve comparability and confidence of environmental monitoring, moving towards more effective environmental legislation.

The European conference on the role of metrology in environment, health and safety, held in June 2001 by the French National Institute for Environmental Safety and Risk Prevention (INERIS) in co-operation with DG Research, has led to the formation of a scientific network with fundamental and far-reaching implications. The conference recognised that while the environment is continuous, scientists examining its problems work mainly within the compartments of air, water, and soil, with too little communication between them. However, the behaviour of pollutants is not compartmentalised; in many cases they move between all these media, and scientific know-how from one area may be of great interest to another. Furthermore, the whole chain between the end result: scientific information useable by EU decision makers and the primary research activities on new methods and measurement technologies also needs increased integration. INERIS set about assembling a group of interested organisations that would be prepared to address European environmental issues in a truly interdisciplinary way, with a view to contributing to the objectives of sustainable development.

Unique approach
 

Jacques Repussard, Deputy Director-General of INERIS explains that the Metropolis network aims to build a resource of environmental metrology and other related expertise that is accessible to environmental scientists and end users throughout the wider Europe, including the EU institutions themselves. The first two of the six Metropolis work packages will address environmental measurements at their source. Biomonitoring is the use of biological responses to assess environmental changes, e.g. measuring the presence or activity of particular species in a changing situation. The second, on methods in analytical chemistry and reference materials, is concerned with basic analytical tools. The third work package on online measurements, data transfer and model-making deals with interpretation, storage and transfer of information.

 
Quality and uncertainty
 

Quality assurance and uncertainty assessment - the fourth package - concerns the difficult concepts of how to ensure that environmental factors are measured in such a way that the results are meaningful, and not just a 'snapshot'. One of the main ways to establish certainty and confidence in environmental monitoring is to work towards European standards. Use of standardised procedures ensures that results of one scientific research establishment are directly comparable with those of any other.

 
Science and politics
 

The last work package deals with bridging the gap between scientists and politicians, as well as citizens. The society's environmental, and public health expectations or requirements on one hand, and the current possibilities and limitations of measurement techniques on the other need to be assessed and managed efficiently from both sides. Repussard says, "This is essential for the elaboration of effective EU legislation, and for the sound implementation of the precautionary principle."

 
Wide support
 

Today Metropolis has 38 member scientific organisations from seventeen countries, including research and other expert institutes, and some enterprises. It remains however open to additional partners. The network is also supported by four pan-European organisations with complementary interests, including the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) , the European Environmental Press (EEA) , the European Network of Environmental Research Organisations (ENERO) and the European Safety, Reliability and Data Association (ESReDA) . It is also advised by the European Commission's Environment Directorate-General , which sees in the convergent expertise of this network a potential for accelerating the elaboration of scientifically sound EU strategic policies on the environment. About ten of the 38 members are playing a management role. Funding is being provided allowing all of the institutes to take part in up to three work packages of their choice, although they are free to participate in more. Members will use plenary network meetings, seminars and internet sites to publish guidance on state-of-the-art measurement techniques and methods for the environment, health and safety. They will also work to identify areas where new collaboration or research is needed. A major internet conference at the end of the two years will share best practices identified during the work period.

Metropolis will also prepare plans for a future Network of Excellence to be set up under the Sixth Framework Programme for RTD. The pool of interdisciplinary expertise will present a firmer foundation for new measures than the present system of attempting to reach a compromise between varying national interests.
Repussard hopes that the network will develop into a truly efficient and comprehensive tool, fostering the development of a harmonious body of expertise in support of the implementation of European environmental strategies, a cornerstone of sustainable development.

 
Unique approach
Quality and uncertainty
Science and politics
Wide support
   

Key data

An initiative under the Competitive and Sustainable Growth Programme of the Fifth Framework Programme for RTD has brought together a large network of scientific institutes to build a shared resource of expertise on monitoring and analysis of environmental change and development.

Network

Metropolis - Metrology in support of precautionary sciences and sustainable development policies (GTC2-2001-53008).

     

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