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WP2 – Citizen participation in radiation measurements.

Lead: ISS; Partners FMU, IRSN, UAB, ISGlobal; Expert: V. Chumak

Experiences after the Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents have clearly shown that self-made measurement of radiation can create opportunities for providing information to individuals and empowering them to take an active role in their own radiation protection decisions, thus regaining control on their lives. It also facilitates comprehension of individual exposure and official limits. The use of these technologies should then be encouraged, but minimum standards of quality and reliability should be fostered and the misuse should be avoided. At the same time, the data collected by general public can be used to compare and integrate the data from conventional off-site monitoring and modeling tools. The self-measurement process so become part of the necessary actions that are to be taken to find again the trust in the information given by the RP authorities and the technical experts. In addition, both in Chernobyl and Fukushima (and before – in A-bomb survivor case) reconstruction of individual doses and estimation of group doses was based on surveys of affected populations to reconstruct their whereabouts (locations, migration routes, stay in- or outdoors, administration of stable iodine and application of other countermeasures). With modern technologies most of this data can be collected automatically, using mobile devices and appropriate APPs.

Objectives: To improve the usage of plug-in devices and apps able to turn smartphones, tablets and other smart devices in radiation detectors for self-made measurements by different sectors of the population and to provide the collection and feed of data, essential for dose reconstruction.

 Approach: This will require the following actions:

Task 2.1 Critical review of existing plug-in’s and apps to turn smart devices in radiation detectors

The last years have seen a wide development of plug-in devices or apps able to turn the smartphones (in particular through the buit-in telecameras) into radiation detectors. Some devices/apps are already available for sale or patented. The plug-in devices are diodes, Geiger counters, scintillators and can consequently detect external radiation as counts or dose rate. Other devices are under development, e.g. spectrometry of radioisotopes or measurements of iodine in thyroid, but these are for professional use (e.g. for rescues personnel), so they use sophisticated technologies and are costly. The quality, accuracy, reproducibility and limitation of these technologies is expected to be greatly variable, especially if they are used in real situations.  

In this project, it is planned to review plug-in devices and apps available for sale or under prototyping. For some technologies, that will be identified in the review, measurement testing in reference irradiation conditions in the laboratory will be performed in order to evaluate the performances.  

Task 2.2 Improvement of the appropriateness (accuracy, robustness and user friendliness) of self-measurement connected devices and the integration of citizen measurements into existing monitoring networks at the national and European level

Once the available technologies are reviewed and, where feasible, tested under in-lab conditions (Task 2.1), these must be tested in the real life, i.e. how they are perceived, used and understood by public and how they can be integrated in the decision support systems.

This would involve: 
  • reducing the impact of the human factor which is one of the main sources of uncertainty in the self-made measurements by untrained population. A good training/education (for instance by video tutorials) to the use of technologies can improve the measurement quality.
  • evaluating the feasibility of defining minimum criteria of performance that mobile apps and plug-ins should comply to. Such an approach would guarantee a minimum quality level for all plug-ins and apps, whether provided by institutional or independent developers.
  • evaluating proposals/recommendations on how citizen measurements data could be integrated and matched into off-site environmental monitoring networks at the national and European level;
    • measurement data of ambient dose using APPs will be integrated on Google map
    • to share the dose information on website with citizens and comments from stakeholders
Task 2.3 Based on needs learnt from WP1 (stakeholder consultation), improve or develop interactive platforms or tools for communication and dialogue on radiation measurements and results

This task will be focused at defining the concepts of an app to provide an information on radiation exposure that is at the same time rigorous and understandable by all segments of society.

This would involve:
  • defining the information on radiation measurements which can foster the understanding of the meaning of official dose limits, in all phases
  • adapt the type of information to the specific needs in different phases and segments of population
  • define how to complement information on self-made measurements with communication on internal contamination, also by defining criteria for collection and recording of the internal dosimetry results in databases and for the reporting of these results to the people measured and to the stakeholders.
  • include information on which types of food products are more dangerous because of a higher concentration of radionuclides and how to deal with them.
Task 2.4 Optimization of proposals based on WP1 feedback

WP1 will provide feedback on the proposal from 2.3 and 2.4, particularly concerning the adequacy of the proposed tools for stakeholders (citizens, local communicators, authorities), in particular whether the proposed tools meet their needs, whether they are appropriate and easy to use. Stakeholders will also suggest modifications (possible items to remove, change or add). Discussions will also cover whether there are differences in approaches to new technologies and in their cultural acceptance across populations (between countries as well as within countries in different population groups including different age groups). Recommendations will be made on how to modify the tools and approaches in consequence.
Based on this feedback, WP2 will modify its proposals, as needed, and feed them into WP4.