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UK cities use digital street units to measure air quality

Bradford and Birmingham are working with BT and scientists to use sensors integrated within InLink digital hubs to monitor air pollution in real-time.

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Bradford is one of the first UK cities to use the InLink hubs for monitoring air quality
Bradford is one of the first UK cities to use the InLink hubs for monitoring air quality

The UK cities of Bradford and Birmingham are using sensors integrated within InLink digital street units to measure air quality in real-time.

 

Air quality data is collected every minute from Internet of Things (IoT) modular sensors which can send data over the InLinks’ integrated wi-fi. Data is then available via BT’s data hub for analysis by Bradford Council and a group of researchers and scientists in Birmingham, led by the University of Birmingham.

 

Extending the use of digital hubs

 

InLinkUK from BT is a digital hub that replaces traditional payphones across the UK. The InLink units provide a range of free digital services to the local community including free ultra-fast wi-fi, free phone calls, free mobile device charge, community news and easy access to the emergency services.

 

Utilising the InLinks for air quality monitoring avoids the need for additional street clutter, with the wi-fi providing a reliable way to transmit the information in real-time.

 

“This is a great way for us to get real time useful data from units that are already placed in the city centre,” said Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council’s executive member for healthy people and places. “We all need to understand and take responsibility for the implications air pollution has not only on the environment but also how it affects our health, especially children, the elderly and people with heart and lung problems.

 

“Being able to use this data from the city centre will add to the number of initiatives we already have in place to tackle air pollution and improve air quality.”

“We all need to understand and take responsibility for the implications air pollution has not only on the environment but also how it affects our health"

The data provided by the InLinks in Birmingham will complement results from other air quality monitoring equipment used in the West Midlands air quality improvement programme, WM-Air.

 

Air pollution in the West Midlands affects around 2.8 million people, reducing life expectancy by up to six months and costing the economy up to £860 million a year, according to recent reports.

 

“There is a pressing need for more detailed measurements across cities such as Birmingham to deliver clean air science,” said Professor William Bloss, University of Birmingham, who leads the WM-Air project. “It’s important for us to understand the levels of air pollution in the city as it can have a huge impact on the health and wellbeing of people who live and work here.

 

“We are exploring use of the new BT sensors alongside a number of initiatives we already have in place to measure air pollution and improve air quality.”

 

 

BT is working with communities in cities like Birmingham and Bradford to explore how the IoT capability of the InLinks can support a range of smart city initiatives. Other cities are set to benefit from the air quality measuring features incorporated into the design of the InLinks over the coming months.

 

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