Managing Director, EarthSense
Air quality sensors and bespoke modelling are playing an increasingly important role in the way traffic flows around our cities. Urban areas will be healthier as a result.
Unless we can actually see pollution belching out of chimneys or hanging as smog over cities, most of us don’t give a second thought to the quality of the air we breathe.
Yet according to the World Health Organization, over four million deaths are attributed to ambient air pollution every year, so it should concern everyone. “Put it this way,” says Tom Hall, Managing Director of air quality monitoring company, EarthSense. “If you were walking down the street and saw a big red plume of bad air, would you just plough straight through it? Or cross the road to avoid it?”
Hall is a passionate advocate for air quality monitoring technology and accurate traffic emissions modelling. Used intelligently, this can have an important impact on the management of traffic — a major air polluter.
Creating mitigation strategies to improve air quality
These days, sensor technology is all around us. Integrated in roadside infrastructure, it can collect huge volumes of data on, for example, vehicle movements and the environment. Going forward we need even more data and more targeted understanding of air pollution in our cities, through continued sensing programmes, argues Hall.
According to the World Health Organization, over four million deaths are attributed to ambient air pollution every year, so it should concern everyone.
“In the coming years our cities will be equipped with smarter devices,” he says. “For instance, traffic lights and charging points will be able to gather huge amounts of data on everything from air pollutants such as PM2.5 and NOx to traffic density.”
More data means greater insight, which can help local authorities create successful mitigation strategies to improve traffic flows that prevent or control the impact of air pollution around high-risk areas such as schools or hospitals.
Plus, data modelling — using traffic inputs and weather information — can provide a more regional view on the causes of air pollution. “A fused technology approach is the way forward,” believes Hall. “It will ensure decisions can be made in near real-time to positively impact and reduce future pollution events and so improve the health of everyone living in the city and reduce the number of deaths attributed to ambient air pollution.