How to combat undesirable odours

Tuesday, 29 July, 2014
Odours from industry, chemical plants or livestock breeding can be a nuisance for people living in the surrounding areas. Those affected have in the past been asked to help tackle the cause of the problem, but in the majority of cases their input has seldom been used. Until now that is. The European Union (EU)-funded project OMNISCIENTIS brings together state-of-the-art information and communication technologies as well as Earth observation applications to help reduce odour annoyance.

The project team has taken the unprecedented approach of involving citizens, industry and public authorities to come up with effective solutions to combat undesirable odours. Giving all stakeholders the chance to express and share their opinions and concerns is the backbone of the project.

The first stage has seen the OMNISCIENTIS team's web-oriented service platform technology being put into place. This platform is integrating citizens’ feedback and observations regarding potential sources of odours in their area.  

“People are free to sign up to participate on the website and can download the application to provide their own personal feedback on a certain odour-related nuisance in their area,” says project coordinator Philippe Ledent from the Belgian software engineering company SPACEBEL.  “Potential participants are however required to take a half-hour test in advance to ensure their sense of smell is up to scratch,” he adds.

Meanwhile, public authorities could use the web application developed by the project team to access various statistics, impact levels and emission rates. Due to the subjective nature of odour perception, odour monitoring and modelling will be used to assist and adjust the information provided.

“The communication with citizens is vital in addressing the issue of odour annoyance and is expected to lead to better cooperation between potentially conflicting parties,” comments Ledent.

The OMNISCIENTIS project’s technology is currently being tested at a pig fattening farm in Austria and at an industrial paper mill site in Belgium. Once tests are finalised, the project team expects the solution to be rolled out across Europe. This will help generate better information to improve the national and European legislative framework as well as to support local authorities in their environmental decision-making. Last but not least, citizens’ well-being will improve as undesirable odours would be dealt with appropriately.

Odour MoNitoring and Information System based on CItizEN and Technology Innovative Sensors
Project Acronym: