The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced plans to improve the public alerts system warning people about incidents of poor air quality in the capital.
City Hall has appointed King’s College London as duty forecaster, which will see the institution offer live data on air pollution levels in the capital and help to warn residents when air quality is at its poorest.
From next week King’s Environmental Research Group will continuously monitor air pollution in London using the existing air quality monitoring network and modelling tools, delivering alerts as required.
They will also directly notify a wider group of stakeholders so that the alerts are disseminated more widely and targeted at Londoners who are most vulnerable to the impacts of poor air, including those at schools, and potentially care homes, and GPs surgeries in the near future.
The new King’s duty forecaster will consider forecasts from airText and other forecasters to ensure greater coordination and consistency in alerts messaging.
airTEXT provides text and other alerts to around 16,000 Londoners, including those with health conditions which polluted air can exacerbate. The model-based forecast that airTEXT uses will be improved to incorporate real-time monitoring data so that in-day updates can be issued.
This will complement air quality alerts displayed at many public locations across London including 2,500 bus stop countdown signs and all Tube stations. Alerts and guidance are also available via social media, an app and a text alert service providing information and guidance on the alert level.
The Mayor is also publishing guidance today on how air quality is monitored in London, how Londoners can get involved and how they can understand what type of equipment is available for them to use.
The guide gives an overview of current monitoring in London and highlights resources to help Londoners design their own studies, information on types of monitors and how to interpret results.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I introduced air quality alerts within months of becoming Mayor because Londoners have a right to know about the quality of the air that they breathe.
“The system has proved to be very successful but I am delighted to bring the expertise of King’s College London on-board so that we can improve it and reach more Londoners, particularly the most vulnerable, with the very latest information.
“At long last we are seeing some improvements in our toxic air, but there is a long way to go before we can breathe easy. I want more Londoners to engage with air quality issues so I am sure the new guidance that I have published today will encourage people to learn more about the air they breathe and what they can do to improve it.â€?
Timothy Baker, Principal Air Quality Analyst at King’s College London, said: “This new role for King’s College London recognises that our twenty five year history of monitoring across London, in partnership with London’s boroughs, has given us an unrivalled understanding of air pollution in the Capital.
“Providing accurate, up-to-date information to the public is a central component of King’s civic duty, and this exciting new partnership with Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, will enable that message to be delivered directly to those most affected by air pollution.â€?
Amy Stidworthy of CERC, who issue the airText forecasts, said: “We are delighted to work with the Mayor and King’s College London to ensure that Londoners receive the best possible warning of air pollution episodes. As part of our continual improvement of airText we will be linking our modelling more closely with real time measurements of air quality across London to provide the very latest information.â€?