Health matters! Is current air quality sensor data helping the public to make informed decisions?

Health matters! Is current air quality sensor data helping the public to make informed decisions?

Workshop 23rd March 2021

The Pre-Covid era already witnessed alarming health and death figures associated with toxic air pollution. There is an urgency both to reduce air pollution and also provide quality data solutions to sufferers to improve their quality of life.

Dr Saeed, (Head of Research and Development for Air-PoT Consortium), states, “impact of air pollution is alarming and more should to done”;

– Air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK, with between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths a year attributed to long-term exposure.

– 9 out of 10 people breathe air that exceeds WHO guideline limits

Add to this the Covid-19 era where thousands who have suffered from Covid 19 have fortunately survived and are left with respiratory problems for life, which could be made worse by air pollution.

The problem

Public (Defra plus LA) and private sector air sensor operators have installed thousands of air quality sensors that monitor air pollution. All of these sensors measure the various type of air pollutants and collect pollution data. These sensors are not always well maintained or indeed accurate. The data quality may vary enormously, especially if the air sensors are not maintained or calibrated regularly. Poor quality data means the information given to sufferers has little credible value and therefore may not improve their quality of life.

Dr Mohammad Nazir OBE, Air-PoT Head- Strategy and Innovation Exploitations said: “Quality air data is essential to supporting the sufferers of air pollution, yet we do find that availability of quality data is always lacking. This could be due to several reasons; poor quality sensors, varying sensor data, poorly maintained sensor equipment and no sensors at all in many areas where there is high level of air pollution. The aim of this Air-PoT workshop is to attract professionals from sensor providers, academics and scientists to explore how air quality data can be improved to deliver lifesaving solutions.”

The implementation of government regulations on the reduction of air pollution moving toward net zero carbon emissions have to a degree resulted in a reduction in the air pollution levels for certain particulate matter over the past decade. Nevertheless, the available data is not granular enough to let sufferers understand pollution levels in their local areas, or exercise routes, or a place to visit. instead, it is usually town or city-wide data that is available and this only provides information that cannot really be used to guide their actions on a day-to-day basis or plan future activity. Sufferers are demanding a solution that they can use to help them improve their quality of life, by accessing data that is granular enough to let them understand pollution levels in their local areas, or exercise routes, or a place to visit.

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.” – [Sherlock Holmes]

Exploring the Solutions

The Air-PoT consortium are excited to address such related questions as:

– Exploration of the impact of low cost sensors and indoor sensors on the overall air pollution monitoring landscape

– Challenges in ensuring accuracy and proper functioning of installed base of air quality monitoring sites/sensors

– Challenges in bringing increased private sector participation in the air quality monitoring landscape (right now it looks very much like govt or govt funded bodies are the sensor owners and private sector is focused in the sensor manufacturing part – what barriers are there to change this)

– Data currently available is at City Wide basis and not granular enough to allow for more localized air quality information to help sufferers make informed decisions. How can this be changed?

Dr Hafiz Alaka, Air-PoT lead academic researcher, who is the Director of Big Data Technologies and Innovation Lab (for construction and Infrastructure) at University of Hertfordshire said: “To get good granularity simply means massive data due to the need for location data for every IoT emission sensor location. Matching this with millions of data points for other independent variables is why the need for big data in this solution cannot be over emphasizes”

At the next workshop on the 23 March 2021, all those working in air pollution, sensors suppliers, data monitoring, air quality, clean air and air quality academics are welcomed to attend. Please register quickly before seats are sold out. If anyone wishes to collaborate please contact us.

Simon Chambers, Air-PoT Project Manager Air-PoT said “We are very excited to have speakers from the Met Office, Sustainability West Midlands and the University of Hertfordshire attend, it will be a great event with some very stimulating break-out session topics planned.”

Speakers Include

Mohammad Nazir OBE – Air-PoT Head-Strategy and Innovation Exploitation, and Chairman of Smartella Ltd Mohammad Nazir is currently Chairman of Smartella Ltd, an EdTech online technology platform. He is a well-known entrepreneur who has set up as well as supported the commercialisation of many businesses in the digital technology sector as well as numerous other sectors. For over 20 years he served on regional and national strategy boards in supporting business start-ups, Sme support strategy, innovation, incubation, international trade, health and economy to name a few. He is also well known for his tireless work in diversity and inclusion.

Noel Nelson — Senior Manager within the Atmospheric Dispersion and Air Quality Group at the Met Office

Noel Nelson manages a small research team focussing on the goals of the Strategic Priority Funded Clean Air Programme which the Met Office leads. Noel has worked for the Met Office for over twenty years, during which time he has developed experience in atmospheric dispersion modelling, emergency responses to atmospheric hazards, weather and health relationships, atmospheric transmission of animal diseases and climate policy input. Noel spent some years working on secondment to Defra’s Air Quality team assisting in the development of air quality policy, as well as working with the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution to develop several Command Reports. He is a member of the Institution of Environmental Science (Chairing this Institution for a period) and is also a member of the Institute for Air Quality Management.

Alan Carr – Senior Sustainability Adviser, Sustainability West Midlands

Alan Carr is Senior Sustainability Adviser at Sustainability West Midlands, the sustainability champion for the West Midlands. SWM’s Vision is to guide the region becoming a leader in contributing to the national target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 whilst addressing health inequality and driving inclusive growth through monitoring its 2030 Roadmap. Alan’s role includes both business development and project management and delivery.

Dr Hafiz Alaka — Air-PoT Head of Digital Innovation, and Director of the Big Data Technologies and Innovation University of Hertfordshire

Leads and takes part in collaborative research with reputable industry partners. He has been involved in over eight funded research projects worth over six million pounds. Current projects include ‘Emission reduction (worth £500,000) with Earthsense Limited’ and ‘AutoBIM (worth £900,000) with Balfour Beatty’, among three others. Past projects include deconstruction and recovery information modelling, and Big Data Analytics for construction waste reduction, among others. Other notable partners include AHR Architects, White Frog Publishing, Smallfry, and counting.


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