Krakow Fights for Clean Air Using Drones
Tue, April 20, 2021

Krakow Fights for Clean Air Using Drones

Krakow is one of the most polluted cities in the EU / Photo Credit: den_didenko (via Shutterstock)


Marek Witkowski’s patrol car came to a stop, powering his four-rotor dine within minutes and sending it to fight against air pollution, reported James M. Gomez and Dorota Bartyzel of Bloomberg Businessweek, a news website that helps global leaders take one step ahead with insights and in-depth analysis of people, events, etc. Witkowski is at the forefront of the clean-air revolution in one of the most polluted cities in the most polluted member state of the European Union. The drone’s cameras examine chimneys from above for signs that household furnaces are illegally burning coal or trash. As Witkowski steered his drone, he said, “That smoke is white, so they’re using gas—it’s OK.” Addressing climate change is a top political priority in Europe. However, Poland has ways to go as it’s home to over 30 of the EU’s 50 most polluted cities, a clear marker of the communist-era industry.

Almost 80% of its electricity is from coal, which is also the primary fuel for household heating. It is also the policy of the Polish government to preserve jobs for miners. Krakow, Poland’s historic capital and its most popular tourist destination, undertook a radical approach in getting rid of the smog. Buses are run by electricity and it is also the first city in the county to issue a ban on burning coal, policing the air with drones. Marek Aniol, a spokesman for the Municipal Police Department, observed that most drastic cases of burning toxic materials have become rare. “People have noticed the difference in the air quality and want more—more green areas, more efficient recycling, more electric public transport, more healthy solutions,” he added. The Polish government has been at odds with the EU over a lot of issues. One of which is the protection of mining jobs and insisting it will achieve its emission targets on its own regardless of the EU’s more stringent regulations.

This resulted in a drive spearheaded by municipal authorities and activists to replace all archaic home furnaces. There were 30 cases of pollution from heating a decade ago but ever since the Municipal Police Department acquired its first drone in 2018, Krakow found 13,000 households for illegal burning. Jacek Majchrowski, mayor of the city since 2002, stated, “The air knows no borders. It appeared to many as an insurmountable problem.”