A ground-breaking air quality sensor network, which provides publicly available data on a street-by-street basis, has launched in the London borough of Camden.
Developed by air quality specialist AirScape, in partnership with Camden Council and the Camden Clean Air Initiative, the network contains 225 sensors installed across the borough.
It provides 45 times more spatial resolution and refreshes 60 times more regularly than the existing network of air quality reference stations in Camden, capturing and reporting hyper-local air quality data every minute to map the issue in real time.
The data generated from the network can be used in a myriad of ways, enabling the public to choose less polluted routes and providing NHS Trusts and schools with information to help raise awareness of air pollution and protect vulnerable communities.
The future possibilities of how the data can be used are vast and AirScape is aiming to engage with potential partners, clean air groups and councils to explore future collaboration.
In the meantime, AirScape and the Camden Clean Air Initiative are working together closely to encourage local groups, businesses, NGOs and members of the public to engage with the platform.
Initial data from beta testing over the past few month has already revealed a number of interesting findings, such as a high increase in levels of NO2 during rush hour on 1 March, when there were Tube strikes across London.
On that day, the average level of PM2.5 in the borough was up 316%, compared to an average non-strike day and average CO2 levels rose by 2-3%.
And on 17 June – the hottest day of the year so far – unhealthy levels of ozone were detected across the borough.
Local community groups are already showing interest in using the information from the platform. A local school group has used the data to conduct a lesson on air quality and local cycling groups are using the information to help choose the cleanest times and routes for cycle rides.
The official launch of the network comes just weeks after a report by the National Audit Office warned the U.K. government is not yet on track to achieve its targets for reducing air pollution and it has not communicated effectively with the public on the issue.
Dr Matthew Johnson, chief scientific officer at AirScape, said air pollution is one of the most profound issues facing humanity today and through this project they are helping make the “invisible, visible”.
“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,” added Dr Johnson.
Cllr 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.
“Making this data freely accessible to all members of our community further demonstrates the council’s longstanding commitment to the open sharing of data in the public interest.”