Pollen allergy: In which regions do those affected suffer particularly strongly?

Join the Ally Science community and contribute your anonymised data to Switzerland's biggest study on pollen allergies. Conducted by the University Hospital Zurich, it is only possible with the help of hay fever sufferers from all regions of Switzerland, including you.

USZ study

More insight into pollen allergies in Switzerland.

Bern University of Applied Sciences BFH and University Hospital Zurich (USZ) are launching the free smartphone app Ally Science. It forms part of the largest ever scientific study into pollen allergies to be carried out in Switzerland. The easy-to-use app, available in all four national languages and English, allows allergy sufferers to keep a record of their condition. Users also receive pollen forecasts and an exclusive representation of the current development of allergy symptoms in the different regions. By taking part in the study, they play a vital role in improving early warning systems and therapies for pollen allergy sufferers in the future. The data that is recorded by the app is stored in private accounts on the secure MIDATA IT platform developed by ETH Zurich and the BFH. The users can decide for themselves at any time which researchers they want to grant access to their anonymised data.
Approximately two million people in Switzerland suffer from physical complaints during the pollen season. These include stinging eyes, runny nose, itchy skin, sore throat and breathing difficulties. It is not yet known which regions (cantons, urban and rural areas) exhibit particularly frequent or severe cases of symptoms, or which factors (pollen variety, fine dust, weather, etc.) are influential. The Allergy Station of the Dermatology Clinic of University Hospital Zurich hopes to find answers to these questions through a scientific study spanning every region in Switzerland.


Pollen mapping study Ally Science 2018: a successful start for allergy research via the citizens

At the peak of the 2018 pollen season, the novel Ally Science research platform has been launched: pollen allergy sufferers enter their allergy symptoms via a smartphone app; the anonymized data flow into allergy research. The longterm aim is to establish a platform for environmental epidemiology and early warning systems for pollen allergy sufferers.
The project got off to a successful start:
In the first phase of the project, almost 8’000 people participated and entered more than 24’000 symptom entries over the 89-day study period. The collected anonymized data show that the principle works: There is a good agreement between the plant species specific pollen forecasts of MeteoSwiss and the feedback from the participants. Many participants report several allergies and the respective symptoms. Nose and eye symptoms correlate most directly with pollen load and subside 1-2 days after high-intensity events, while lower respiratory tract symptoms (pollen asthma) persist for several days after pollen flight. This was not unexpected, but shows the quality of the data, even with a still relatively low number of symptom entries. All this shows that the principle of combining environmental and symptom data works and will form the basis for more in-depth evaluations. Intriguingly, data collected before 10am in the morning could fairly well predict overall symptom strength over the whole day – a prerequisite for the development of symptom-based early warning systems.
Building on the findings of the 2018 pilot study, Ally Science is entering a second phase in 2019 with an enhanced app and linking to technologies that measure pollen levels in real time.
People suffering from allergies can already now, with the start of hazel pollen flight, record their symptoms in the Ally Science app. In order to gain new findings in allergy research, the research team continues to rely on the numerous participation of citizens.
Authors: Prof. Peter Schmid-Grendelmeier, Dr. Dominik Steiger, Daniel Maciej Lawniczak
Zurich, February 13, 2019

New: Ally Science 2019

Real-time data on pollen exposure is available for the first time in Switzerland. This is gathered on the Ally Science app.

The Ally Science app shows how much pollen and which types of pollen are currently in the air – initially for the cities of Biel and Lucerne, where a Poleno unit has been installed. Based on the tests so far, Swisens CEO Erny Niederberger is confident “that the devices will deliver high-quality real-time data.” The data can be viewed on the app in the form of a map. It also shows the regions in which app users are currently registering symptoms, which can be done quickly and easily by swiping into the app’s allergy diary.

Poleno @ BFH (Biel)

Poleno – the measuring device from Lucerne-based start-up Swisens

Press release

The aim of research with « Ally Science »

The idea behind the Ally Science app is to create a platform for studies investigating pollen allergies in Switzerland.

In an initial phase of the project, we set out to answer several important questions on this subject. Firstly, we want to establish how many people in Switzerland experience allergic symptoms, which symptoms are the most common, which of these are already being treated and which allergies have been professionally diagnosed in the app users. Another interesting question in this regard is the distribution of allergy-sufferers in Switzerland, in terms of which regions (cantons, town, country) exhibit particularly frequent or severe cases of allergy complaints.
In due course, we will investigate which links can be identified between actual data on pollen count and air pollutant levels and the symptoms reported at the same time. This requires real-time data for pollen and air pollutants. Our partner, MeteoSwiss, will be able to provide this real-time data in the near future.
We hope that pollen allergy sufferers in particular will benefit from these new early warning systems for pollen and pollutants. We also have plans to conduct studies on reactions to indoor allergens, including the prevalent house dust mite allergy, as well as the less common allergies to animal hair and mould spores. In addition, we want to investigate whether people with these allergies would benefit from a higher indoor air quality, achieved using air purifiers.

Prof. Peter Schmid-Grendelmeier

Prof. Peter Schmid-Grendelmeier, Head of the USZ Allergy Station
Dermatologie on USZ website




The Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH) offers an innovative didactic approach aimed at teaching, R&D and continuous training, using practical exercises to prepare students for professional activities in which scientific knowledge and methods are required.


University Hospital Zurich

From its central location in Zurich, the USZ university hospital provides primary health care and cutting-edge medicine. Its services are available to everyone, every day of the year, 24 hours a day. The dermatology clinic at USZ is dedicated to the meticulous examination, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases and illnesses affecting the skin, nails and hair.

The clinic’s areas of special interest are skin cancer, inflammatory skin conditions and allergies.




The MIDATA data platform enables members of the public to compile their health records in a secure personal account free of charge and to determine if and how they are used in research projects. In this way, they can act as «citizen scientists», making an active contribution to medical research.

MIDATA serves as a data repository for its members and other participating members of the public. It is a non-profit cooperative facility that operates without offering financial incentives, similarly to blood donation services, for instance. The account holders are not paid for their intentional and voluntary «data donation». The revenue generated from the integration of their data into a scientific study is reinvested in the services offered on the platform and in a variety of smaller research projects. Start-ups, IT service providers and research groups can use the platform to offer mobile apps, such as health apps or apps for treating and monitoring patients with chronic illnesses. MIDATA is currently being used in a number of scientific health projects. In one particular project being conducted at University Hospital Zurich, for example, multiple sclerosis patients are being included in a study into the effect of treatments, which uses a tablet app to test their cognitive and motor skills. A further project, currently in development at ETH Zurich, will look at different training methods and the impact they have on muscle growth. More and more projects are being run that are directed at a wide section of the population and are of value to many – as is the case with the «Ally Science» project.

Become a member


ETH Zürich

Freedom and individual responsibility, entrepreneurial spirit and open-mindedness: ETH Zurich stands on a bedrock of true Swiss values. Our university for science and technology dates back to the year 1855, when the founders of modern-day Switzerland created it as a centre of innovation and knowledge.

At ETH Zurich, students discover an ideal environment for independent thinking, researchers a climate which inspires top performance. Situated in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, ETH Zurich is pioneering effective solutions to the global challenges of today and tomorrow.




Swisens AG was founded in 2016 as a spin-off of Lucerne University of Applied Sciences. Swisens develops advanced sensor technologies to monitor allergenic substances or specific aerosol particles in the ambient air.

The first product is called Swisens Poleno. It is an automatic real-time measuring and identification device for various types of pollen and other bio-aerosols like spores. The device is optimized for long-term monitoring. The innovative device achieves unprecedented particle identification quality in the class of optical instruments for aerosol particle identification.
Real-time measurements help people to avoid problematic areas and to take countermeasures in time. Due to the accurate real-time information, allergic people have more time to act and take targeted preventive actions. The new measurement equipment enable Allergologists to treat their patients more targeted.




Pioneering technology company Dyson has made it its mission to take everyday products and improve on them with innovative ideas. Dyson stands for inventive and allergy-friendly developments, especially in the sectors of floorcare and climate control.

More than 40 air purifiers and vacuum cleaners worldwide have been certified by Service Allergie Suisse and carry the organisation’s seal of approval, the Allergy Label. Dyson is Europe’s only manufacturer of household appliances to operate its own microbiological laboratory and boasts over 25 years of experience in HEPA filtration and filter materials. The in-house microbiology laboratory gives the project engineering teams new opportunities for research and support in their bid to develop and improve products that are good for our health and hygiene.




The Swiss Lung Foundation was established 1988 to fight tuberculosis and lung diseases and for clean air, by supporting research and disseminate the knowledge about air pollution, its causes and consequences for health.



The purpose of the foundation is to provide financial support for students of the Berne University of Applied Sciences who are completing an initial or continuing education, in particular in technology, computer science and architecture, preferably part-time.

It also aims to promote innovative projects in the same subject areas which are initiated or accompanied by the Berne University of Applied Sciences, e.g. by supporting knowledge and technology transfers (from and to the Berne economy) and by participating in young companies (by lecturers or by students and graduates of the Berne University of Applied Sciences).



Technical and competence partner


ELCA makes it work. For 50 years now we’ve been helping our customers improve processes and valorisation of the data to the benefit of their customers, by developing IT solutions and applications like ALLY APP.

Our multidisciplinary teams combine state-of-the-art technological expertise with creative design and medical knowledge to make patients’ lives easier.




Superhuit is a digital agency specialising in brand and Web solutions. From Lausanne to Porto, its multidisciplinary team focuses on creating engaging user experiences that increase organisations impact.


aha! Swiss Allergy Centre

aha! Swiss Allergy Centre is an independent, non-profit foundation, focusing on the needs and interests of allergy sufferers as well as helping them find better quality of life by means of active prevention. www.aha.ch

aha! Swiss Allergy Centre is an independent, non-profit foundation, focusing on the needs and interests of allergy sufferers as well as helping them find better quality of life by means of active prevention.



[EN] MeteoSwiss

The Federal Office for Meteorology and Climatology, MeteoSwiss, is Switzerland’s national weather and meteorology service.

Our public service underpins the foundations of weather and meteorological information in Switzerland, and plays an integral part in the safety and well-being of the people of Switzerland.