The program is expected to greatly improve air monitoring practices in the UK’s capital.
Last week the city of London kicked off its most ambitious air monitoring program by far. The program is expected to greatly improve air monitoring practices and bring about several other benefits for the city’s residents.
Based on a novel approach and the best currently available technology, Breathe London will provide air quality data from 100 stationary sensors and two sensor-equipped cars run by Google. The program also includes collaborations with other global partners, including C40 Cities and the Environmental Defense Fund.
Detailed maps, available to policymakers and citizens alike, will show how traffic, roads, weather and other factors influence air pollution. The approach is expected to help locate pollution hotspots so that strategies can be developed to combat them.
“Stationary and mobile sensors will measure harmful pollution in tens of thousands of locations,” the project’s creators explain on their website. “Highly detailed maps will illustrate how factors like traffic, road layout and weather impact local air pollution patterns. This will inform better solutions to clean up our dirty air and foster healthier, stronger communities.”
Along with improved air monitoring, the program will also feature a number of initiatives, including an Ultra Low Emissions Zone and efforts to decrease the pollution exposure of children, who are among the most vulnerable to the adverse effects of toxic air on people’s health. Air pollution has been linked to several developmental problems in children from learning disabilities to autism.
Monitoring concentrations of nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, and other pollutants might with time even allow experts to make forecasts about pollution peaks, which will help citizens make smarter decisions about their daily patterns. While the main focus is on better human health and a cleaner environment, the program might also bring about economic benefits. Currently, dirty air costs London a stunning £3.7 billion every year.
The program’s initiators hope that the new monitoring framework will help policymakers make better development decisions. At the same time, citizens should have a better quality of life.