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Camden plans new air quality sensor network

05/08/21

Mark Say Managing Editor

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Camden Council is planning to install what is claimed to be the world’s most dense network of air quality sensors.

AirNode sensor on post

Under a deal with air quality specialist AirLabs, the London borough and its partner the Camden Clear Air Initiative are planning to have about 200 AirNode sensors in place along with the AirScape information platform by the end of September.

It then aims to increase the total number of sensors to 250, providing at least 100 times more spatial resolution and refreshing 60 times more regularly than the borough’s existing sensor network.

Each device will measure a range of pollutants including airborne particulates and toxic gases such as nitrogeon dioxide and carbon dioxide, along with temperature and humidity and taking measurements every minute. They will be optimally spaced on lampposts, buildings and other suitable infrastructure to identify and differentiate between different sources of pollution.

The initial roll out is being funded principally by AirLabs, with an invitation to local businesses and other stakeholder organisations to show support by ‘adopting’ an AirNode. Camden is covering the costs of powering the sensors.

The AirScape platform will make it possible for the council to analyse data from the sensors to identify local pollution hotspots and will provide a live map for the public to interrogate the data. AirLabs said this could be used for purposes such as feeding into local traffic management policy, helping the public to map safe travel routes and providing NHS trusts with public health information.

Understanding pollution

Councillor Adam Harrison, cabinet member for a sustainable Camden, said: “This project will form an important part of our work to protect public health by building a more detailed understanding of the sources of air pollution throughout Camden and the actions we can all take to reduce pollution and our exposure to it.”

Prashant Kumar, chair and professor of air quality and health at the University of Surrey, said: “Research has shown that air pollution is hyper-local as well as regional. We need many air quality monitoring devices in a dense network to describe it accurately, diagnose the problem and identify sources and solutions.

“Dense networks of air quality sensor nodes recording in real-time, measuring a full range of pollutants from noxious gases to tiny particulates, are an important step towards winning the fight against air pollution and providing clean air for everyone.”

AirLabs said it hopes the project will provide a blueprint for similar networks to be installed urban areas.

Image from AirLabs

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