Breathe London Pilot Provides Real-Time Air Quality Data

The Breathe London pilot initiative was recently launched to provide real-time, hyperlocal air quality data. The initiative is a private sector-academic partnership between Imperial College London’s Environmental Research Group and the media and infrastructure company Clear Channel. The pilot will integrate air quality sensors into digital advertising displays in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.

Clear Channel worked with Imperial Projects, sensor manufacturer Clarity Movement, and the digital display company Amscreen to create a scalable, standardized solution to allow a rapid and easy roll-out of air quality sensors across its national network of digital advertising displays. The three pilot displays in the Borough of  Barking and Dagenham were specifically chosen for their high-footfall. They will monitor levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter (PM2.5), known for their negative impact on respiratory health.

“Air pollution is the biggest environmental risk to health in the UK and globally. The World Health Organisation recently updated [its] guidelines, setting much lower targets, showing we have further to go to protect public health,” said Andrew Grieve, senior air quality analyst at Imperial Projects. “Only by monitoring air quality can we see if we are heading in the right direction, so we are hugely excited by this unique partnership between business, academia and local government to expand the Breathe London network.”

Data from the sensor sites is transmitted to Breathe London, which also collects data from around 300 similar small sensors across the city. The Breathe London network is a new initiative developed by the ERG, funded by the mayor of London and Bloomberg Philanthropies, which provides real-time, hyperlocal air quality data to Londoners, via the Breathe London website.

 The data collected will be used by council officers at the borough to improve their understanding of air pollution within the borough and monitor changes.

“We’re determined to improve the quality of air in Barking and Dagenham to ensure our residents are living in a healthy environment. Launching our Air Quality Action Plan, to planting thousands of new trees in the borough to encouraging residents to turn their engines off when stationary are just some of the ways we’re trying to do this,” stated councilor Margaret Mullane, cabinet member for enforcement and community safety. “I am pleased to see that we’re also introducing further air quality sensors, so we can really understand the issue in hot spot areas and work out what else needs to be done.”