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Who cares about dirty air?

Air pollution is high on the agenda at the moment. Nick Sacke, Comms365, looks at how IoT technology can help.


‘Dirty air’ has become a hot topic within the technology industry over recent years, especially as innovative technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to plant its roots. This interest is only going to grow as health and safety concerns from the wider population and media attention ramp up.


A recent study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that more than 40 towns and cities in the UK are at or have exceeded air pollution limits. The question is, how can technology help?

More than 40 towns and cities in the UK are at or have exceeded air pollution limits.


The good news is that these high pollution levels are gradually starting to fall in some places, partly thanks to technology solutions such as IoT enabling smart cities. A good number of cities that have rolled out smart projects are already realising tangible benefits, especially when it comes to pollution levels.

Making a change

India’s 100 Smart Cities’ goal is an excellent example of where the technology has been rolled out widely and quickly with cities like Chennai successfully using smart, integrated IoT solutions to tackle traffic congestion issues. So why is the UK lagging so far behind?


Efforts towards lowering air pollution levels in the UK are starting to show, such as the IoT initiatives deployed in Oxford and Cambridge. IoT sensors have been placed on building exteriors to monitor air pollution levels where, dependent on readings, pedestrian or motor traffic can be redirected if a particular area is above or exceeds the limit. However, it’s clear that the UK has a way to go to effectively tackle dirty air levels, especially considering the European Commission has recently launched legal proceedings against the British government for repeatedly breaching EU air pollution rules.


Pain points


Identifying the right pain points is crucial, before addressing them in the best way possible. Sustainability issues are an obvious starting point as they offer the opportunity not only to benefit the environment, but also provide significant cost saving opportunities too – for example, lighting alone makes up 19 per cent of the world’s total electricity consumption.


Lighting alone makes up 19 per cent of the world’s total electricity consumption.


An example of success in this field is Yokohama in Japan, which has an innovative energy programme. The city saw a stark rise in population that caused construction and pollution increases. Through collaboration between the city government, private sector, citizens and household brand names, a pilot was rolled out in just 4,000 homes and resulted in a 20 per cent decrease in power consumption.


This project started with innovation born from necessity, but also took on board government and citizen interests and provided a valuable, measurable, commercial outcome.


So, it’s clear the UK is still lagging when it comes to innovative IoT projects, but they’re on the rise. And it’s with the help of technology vendors in conjunction with the government and the broader population that these projects will come to fruition to address the problem of air pollution in the UK and beyond.


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