A complex network of air quality sensors has been installed across the London borough of Camden which will provide real-time data points on air quality.

Developed by AirScape, the fixed network has 225 AirNode sensors that will provide 45 times more data points and refreshes 60 times more regularly than existing air-quality reference stations, to show a street-by-street picture of air quality in real time.

The data collected will be made freely available online to enable individuals, businesses and local authorities to make quality-of-life decisions that improve air quality for all.

The National Audit Office recently said that government initiatives to cut air pollution have “not moved as fast as expected” and it is unclear how current 2030 targets for the UK will be met.

AirScape said the new project could form a blueprint for other London boroughs and cities around the world to improve the health and wellbeing of the public.

Dr Matthew Johnson, chief scientific officer at AirScape, said: “Air pollution is one of the most profound issues facing humanity today. Tackling this crisis requires policy makers, businesses, and the general public to have a real-time, accurate understanding of air quality through accessible, publicly available data.

“Through this project, AirScape is making the invisible, visible. Our air-quality sensor network in Camden delivers ultra-high-definition detail of local air pollution. The network is supporting policy makers to make data-driven choices to protect the health and wellbeing of the local community, whilst giving the public the ability to make informed decisions every day to reduce their exposure to air pollution.

“Camden is a vital first location for the deployment of AirScape, and our ambition is to install networks across every major city in the world, to enable a giant leap in our ability to tackle the air pollution crisis.”

Initial data from beta testing over the past month has already revealed a number of interesting findings. On a micro level, the platform can identify daily ‘incidents’ that occur on one street but not another, and extreme pollution differences in time, shown in rush-hour NO2.

In early March, on the day of tube strikes in London, high increases in rush-hour NO2 were detected as more people relied on road transport. On 17 June, the hottest day of the year so far, unhealthy levels of ozone were detected across the borough, and a large fire on Chalk Farm Road that took place on the same day saw significant increases in harmful PM2.5 pollutants in the direction of the wind.

World Health Organization (WHO) data shows that almost all of the global population (99 per cent) breathe air that exceeds WHO guideline limits and contains high levels of pollutants, with low- and middle-income countries suffering from the highest exposures.

Councillor Adam Harrison, Cabinet member for a sustainable Camden said: “Reducing air pollution is absolutely vital to improving the health and well-being of everyone in Camden. The detailed data from this network will revolutionise how we can engage with our community, giving us the power to make smarter, informed decisions to tackle air pollution.”

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