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London makes major new investment in air quality monitoring

Sadiq Khan and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg are announcing a joint investment worth almost £1.5m to help ensure recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is green and clean. 

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The Breathe London network plays an important part in supporting a green recovery
The Breathe London network plays an important part in supporting a green recovery

Mayor of London and Bloomberg Philanthropies have announced a £1.5m joint investment in air quality monitoring across the UK capital city.

 

The combined investment, including £779,000 from Sadiq Khan and £720,000 from Bloomberg Philanthropies, will fund the day-to-day running of 195 air quality sensors across London, as well as further research and community engagement.

 

Real-time air quality data

 

Data from the sensors – installed at hospitals, schools and in local authorities to measure pollution locally – will produce real-time air quality data that Londoners can access on the new Breathe London website.

 

The website will bring together data from London’s existing monitoring network, alongside Breathe London sensors, meaning once all the sensors are in operation it will host data from more than 300 monitoring sites.

 

Additionally, a new sponsorship programme in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies and Imperial College London will provide an extra 60 sensors available to London communities over next three years. Organisations and individuals will be able to apply to host a sensor in a location of their choice from the summer, with all associated costs covered. The first 10 sensors will be released in the autumn.

“Never has tackling London’s toxic air been more important, which is why I am taking these bold and innovative steps to improve it”

In addition to the Breathe London sponsorship programme, community groups, charities, businesses, individuals, academics and boroughs will also be able to “buy in” to the network at a reduced cost. The sensor network aims to “significantly reduce” the costs of sourcing reliable air pollution data for local projects or schemes like School Streets.

 

“I am delighted that Londoners will now have access to real-time, accurate air quality data for their area from more than 300 monitoring sites. This will improve awareness and help people reduce their exposure to polluted air,” said Sadiq Khan, mayor of London.

 

“The new website we are launching today will also help City Hall, TfL and the boroughs better target efforts on improving air quality at a local level.

 

“As we look towards a recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, it is vital that we create a city that is cleaner and greener. Never has tackling London’s toxic air been more important, which is why I am taking these bold and innovative steps to improve it,” Khan continued.

 

“But I can’t do this alone. Now, we need government to step up and match my ambitions. If they give cities the powers and funding needed, we will be able to make air pollution a thing of the past.”

 

Green recovery

 

The work of the Breathe London network is intended to form a vital part of supporting a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic by tackling environmental and health inequalities.

 

“The Breathe London sensor network is rapidly taking shape after intensive work over the past two months by our team at Imperial. The necessary data transfer and quality control systems have been put in place and nodes at hospitals across the city are already providing near real time air quality data via the new Breathe London website,” added Professor Frank Kelly, Battcock chair in community health and policy at Imperial College.

 

“The next stage of the project will see schools and local communities benefiting from this expanding network of sensors as we supply real time air quality information to more and more Londoners.” 

 

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