New technology enabler for collective action on air quality

Almost every day there is a new report about yet more evidence of the horrendous impact of air pollution on people’s health, both physiological and mental. It’s not only having long-term effects, but also impacting people’s cognitive abilities here and now. More and more people are becoming aware of the threats that air pollution poses to their health and well-being, but the amount of information available about the air quality in their vicinity is extremely sparse, difficult to understand and not actionable. As a consequence, people don’t know what level and type of air pollution they are exposed to and what they can do to reduce their exposure. Unfortunately schools and offices are advised by governments to keep windows open to reduce the risk of spreading of the coronavirus, thus making the indoor air just as polluted as the outdoor air.

Increasingly central and local governments want to take action against air pollution, but until now the technology at their disposal has not allowed them to provide air quality information in sufficient detail to give people a good understanding of what they are actually exposed to. This lack of insight explains why policies (such as Low Emission Zones) that are introduced to reduce people’s air pollution exposure often meet with strong resistance from residents and other local stakeholders, the very same people who these policies aim to protect. What also doesn’t help is that little evidence can be provided of the effectiveness of some of these policies and interventions.

Time for a change

Currently, unless you are working in air quality, you are unlikely to know much about it. It tends to be a topic for experts or a topic ‘for government done by government.’ There are no widespread education programmes about air quality, so stakeholders (businesses, institutions, citizens) remain unaware, disengaged or, worse, vulnerable to misinformation and unaccepting of policies and decisions by local authorities.

At AirLabs we want to change this situation. Our view is that air pollution is not government’s fault nor sole responsibility. We are in it together, everyone contributes to the problem and everyone can and should play a role in improving it. Awareness and involvement start with making the problem visible.

AirLabs has developed an IoT platform called AirScape which consists of state-of-the-art sensor devices connected through a wireless network with a Cloud-based computer system where all sensor data is collected and visualised through easy-to-understand user interfaces. The hyper-local air quality information is underpinned by a large number of our sensor devices installed at street level, typically not more than 250 meters apart. This gives an unprecedented level of detail, both in space and time, allowing everyone to gain insights never seen before.

Our mantra is ‘See, Act, Confirm’. AirScape makes air pollution information available to everyone to see, to support and promote positive action by individuals and communities which, in turn, drives improvement that can be confirmed with before-and-after analyses. This engagement cycle is self-perpetuating.

Affordability through numbers

AirScape is based on a novel business model called Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Its funding is based on participation of a large and diverse group of stakeholders, including local authorities, businesses and residents. They contribute through a variety of mechanisms to pay for the installation and upkeep of the system and for the generation of quality-assured air pollution information. This approach is being piloted in London, where AirLabs is working in partnership with boroughs, community groups, businesses and residents to create the world’s densest network of low-cost air pollution sensors, producing data every minute to cover the entire borough. The detailed pollution data from this network unlocks new use-cases for low pollution routing, location comparison, detection of sources of air pollution, emergency incident warnings and others.

Who are we?

AirLabs is one of the world’s leading pioneers in clean air technology. AirLabs’ mission is to provide actionable insight into air quality and clean polluted air to make it safe for people to breathe.

Our international team of atmospheric chemistry scientists, airflow engineers and sensor specialists has developed cutting-edge and scientifically-proven measuring, monitoring and cleaning solutions for use by governments, businesses and individuals to tackle the growing problem of urban air pollution.

Air cleaning solutions from AirLabs are used in buses, taxis, ambulances, buildings, etc.

AirLabs is based in the UK and committed to working in collaboration with central and local governments to improve the health of everyone; inclusively and equitably.

We would love to talk further with you about the topic of hyperlocal air quality monitoring and how AirScape can help to fulfil your mission. Please contact us or visit our AirScape pages.

Event Diary

The Security Event is set to be the first major exhibition to take place in the sector when it opens its doors on 7-9 September 2021 at the NEC in Birmingham and for the first time it will also encompass the National Cyber Security Show.

digitech21 will seek to demystify the increasingly complex technology landscape and will showcase a host of public sector best practice case studies and the very best solution providers, each of whom are helping organisations to transform and improve the way in which the public sector delivers services to the citizen.

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