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Video animates London air pollution data

An animated video sets fluctuations in London air pollution data over the course of a year to music

A team of creative media developers have put together a video that animates pollution levels in London over the course of 2011.

Based on daily mean nitrogen dioxide levels monitored across the capital by the London Air Quality Network at King’s College London, the video animation visualises the fluctuation in levels throughout the 2011 calendar year.

A shot taken from the air pollution video (Image: Brondbjerg Design & Development)

A shot taken from the air pollution video (Image: Brondbjerg Design & Development)

The 3D video was put together over the course of two weeks by Tunbridge Wells-based Brondbjerg Design and Development using a number of open source libraries, including a Processing Map Projection utility created by City University London.

Developer Mike Brondbjerg, who worked on the video alongside his partner at the firm, Polly Vinyard, said he hoped the video would be both aesthetically interesting and informative.

The variations in air pollution data was set to the song ‘Cichli’, by electronic group Autechre, and used to create a pollution surface which was then laid over a map of London. The surface appears to move as pollution levels rise and fall at different monitoring stations.

Oxford Street and other busy central London roadside monitoring locations are, perhaps unsurprisingly, generally shown in the video as having the highest points in the animated surface.

Writing on the Brondbjerg website, Mr Brondbjerg stated: “We were interested to see, both out of aesthetic and intellectual curiosity, if you combined the historical graphing data with each of the sites geolocation, what annual or geographical patter, if any, would be revealed but also what creative applications rich data like this can be used for.”

Mr Brondbjerg, who has worked as a developer at the firm for more than a decade, said: “It was a personal project, really, that came about after conversations with Dan Marsh (senior air quality analyst at King’s College London). It’s half an aesthetic project and half and informative one.”

He added: “It would be nice to add more detail and data to it if we got some funding, but there’s always a balance of time and money. It would also be great to produce a web version where you can manipulate the view as you can on the desktop version – I think that would be the next step.”

More information on the London air pollution visualisation project is available on the Brondbjerg website.

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