Participatory Night Sky Quality Monitoring

Buiometria Partecipativa (BMP) –
Participatory Dark Sky Quality Monitoring

Overview
bmp-2015-08-12The BMP project was started in 2008 by two environmental engineers, Francesco Giubbilini and Andrea Giacomelli, with the aim of encouraging non-professionals to collect data on light pollution as a strategy for environmental awareness raising. The BMP project conjugates this component with a scientific approach, making an extensive combined use of various technologies, and allows the collection of valuable quantitative environmental data, using a low-cost device, called Sky Quality Meter (SQM). Measurements can be produced borrowing an SQM from the BMP instrument pool, if the users do not own one.

The measurements are loaded to a database on the project web site, and are published in a variety of formats (maps, reports, charts).
What we generated following this process is the first Italian database on light pollution measurements populated by a group of citizens who are gradually increasing their insight on this environmental issue. The BMP system also includes also measures from other countries.

In 2011 we extended our system to collect data from fixed SQM stations for continuous monitoring of light pollution. We also started to experiment, in collaboration with other groups, the automated aggregation of this information with weather data. This is helping to gradually complement the participatory measures with more high-quality time series of light pollution data (http://www.cordilit.org).

In May 2011 we founded Attivarti.org, in order to manage the project through a legal entity, operating with a European vision in the promotion and protection of minor or lesser known resources in the areas of culture, environment, and open innovation, with a focus on promoting rural territories.

At the national level, the project has obtained considerable recognition, in terms of actual participation, media coverage (in the press, on the radio and on TV), and has received a national award for innovation and environmental awareness raising.
Internationally, the BMP project represents one of the longest-running experiences of participatory monitoring of night sky quality, and has developed a significant network of relationships, and collaborations, with other institutions engaged globally in light pollution research, awareness raising, and policy support. Between January 2013 and October 2016 Attivarti.org represented Italy in the Management Committee of the Loss of the Night Network, funded within the COST programme (www.cost-lonne.eu), together with the National Research Council’s Institute of Biometeorology.

In addition to collecting measurements we take care of:

  • Interacting with public and private stakeholders to trigger actual improvements in lighting practice.
  • producing outreach material (videos, tutorials, reports, etc.);
  • giving presentations on the subject of light pollution;
  • managing the web site and social media for the project;
  • managing the database and the map where data is loaded. This can then be viewed and downloaded freely, under the Open DataBase Licence – http://www.opendatacommons.org/licenses/odbl/);
  • promoting the use of free/open source software.

We are interested in:

  • extending the network of contacts for the collection of measurements (the picture on the right shows the measurements recorded between 2008 and March 2015 in Italy);
    carrying out dissemination initiatives;
  • consolidating our night sky quality monitoring network, identifying locations interested in hosting new sensors
  • fostering coordination among different actors in light pollution prevention and use of better light at night;
  • encouraging the use of our material. Among various items, we have a model simulating the effect of various types of lighting in the background of a starry sky made with optical fibers, as well as various presentations, questionnaires, videos, etc;
  • Developing citizen science projects in addition to BMP.

Finally, we are interested in identifying funding opportunities to consolidate the activities of the BMP project, both at a national level and in other countries.

For more information, please visit our website or contact us via e-mail (buiometria@attivarti.org).