Consortium to roll-out ‘hyperlocal’ air quality network in London

A consortium of academics and technology specialists is to rollout a network of 100 multiparameter AQMesh air monitors in London as part of a project to improve data capture on the capital’s air pollution.

Starting in July 2018, the project will be led by the charity Environmental Defense Fund Europe, in partnership with Air Monitors Ltd, Google Earth Outreach, Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants, University of Cambridge, National Physical Laboratory and King’s College London.

100 multiparameter AQMesh air monitors are being deployed across London

Two Google Street View cars will be used tol map air pollution ‘at an unprecedented level of detail’ within the capital, it has been claimed.

Tewkesbury-based firm Air Monitors Ltd will supply the AQMesh pods and a comprehensive suite of analysers that will be fitted to the Google Street View cars.

In addition, Air Monitors will be responsible for the wireless collection of data, so that air quality can be visualised and mapped in almost real-time.

Air Monitors Managing Director Jim Mills says: “It is difficult to underestimate the importance of this project – traditional monitoring networks provide essential information to check compliance against air quality standards, but this network will be ‘hyperlocal’ by which we mean that it will deliver street-level air quality data, which will be of tremendous interest to the public and also enable the effective assessment of air quality interventions.

“The Google Street View cars will take readings every 30 meters, helping us to find pollution hot-spots, so that AQMesh pods can be positioned in these locations. However, the pods are wireless and battery-powered, so they can also be quickly and easily fixed to lamp posts in other sensitive locations such as schools.”

C40 Cities

The initiative is being delivered by the C40 Climate Leadership Group, working alongside the Greater London Authority.

The monitoring data will provide baseline air quality data that will be essential in the assessment of mitigation measures, particularly in London’s expanding ultra-low emission zone.

Mark Watts, C40, executive director said: “Almost every major city in the world is dealing with the threat of toxic air pollution, which is taking an incredible toll on the health of citizens, public finances, quality of life and contributing to climate change. London is already a world leader in responding to this global threat and with this initiative it will set a new global standard for how street level air quality monitoring can inform strategic policy making.

“Cities across the C40 network and around the world will be watching closely to understand how this monitoring can deliver cleaner air for their citizens.”

In addition to nitrogen dioxide and particulates, which are the pollutants of greatest concern, the pods will also measure ozone, nitric oxide, carbon dioxide, temperature, humidity and pressure.

Data will be automatically transmitted to Air Monitors’ cloud-based data management system, which can be accessed by PC, tablet or smartphone.

Baroness Bryony Worthington, executive director for Environmental Defense Fund Europe, added: “This project will provide a step change in data collection and analysis that will enable London to evaluate the impact of both air quality and climate change policies and develop responsive interventions.

“A clear output of the project will be a revolutionary air monitoring model and intervention approach that can be replicated cost-effectively across other UK cities and globally, with a focus on C40 cities.”

Opinion

Launch of the network comes after polling has suggested that Londoners are increasingly becoming aware of the impact of air pollution of their lives, with many believing that it is negatively impacting on their health.

Polling figures published by London Councils yesterday, suggest that more than half – 53% – of respondents felt that their health had been impacted by London’s air quality, a six per cent rise from last year.

More people than in previous years said that air pollution levels affects their choice of schools for their children – 60% of parents in London say their decisions are affected by air pollution, a 10% from last year.

Councillor Julian Bell, Chair of London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee, said: “This data drives home the fact that Londoners are becoming more aware of the effects of air pollution and that it is having a bigger impact on our communities. A growing number of Londoners want more to be done to tackle this issue as pollution continues to worsen their health and restrict the choices people make.

“London boroughs are on the frontline of addressing the capital’s pollution problem. We work hard to incentivise walking and cycling, expand the network of electric vehicle charging infrastructure and engage with the public on how they can reduce their air pollution impacts.