Camden clean air street sign

World’s densest air quality sensor network to be rolled out in Camden

Image credit: Aleksandr Faustov | Dreamstime

A network of 250 advanced air quality sensors are to be installed in Camden, London, in order to create what is claimed to be the densest sensor network of its type.

With installations taking place this summer by project leaders AirLabs, Camden Council hopes it will provide at least 100 times more data points and refresh 60 times more regularly than existing air quality reference stations.

The network of AirNode sensors will be able to show a street by street picture of air quality in the area in real time.

The data will contribute to local decision making in trying to improve air quality in the borough, particularly around schools, offices, hospitals, retail and hospitality businesses.

In May, it emerged that some Camden residents were being exposed to illegal concentrations of toxic pollution.

Council data revealed four places in the borough where concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) were above the legal limit in 2020 despite the sizeable drop in traffic due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new sensor grid is set to be deployed rapidly over the coming months, with the data generated being used in a number of ways. This includes enabling the public to travel on less polluted routes, more data for local traffic management policy and providing NHS Trusts and schools with information to help raise awareness of air pollution and protect vulnerable communities.

Marc Ottolini, CEO of AirLabs, said: “Our ultra-dense network of sensors will provide unprecedented ultra-high definition visibility of local air pollution.

“There’s no time to wait in tackling the air pollution crisis – we all contribute to air pollution, and we all suffer the health impacts that it causes. This new information system empowers us all to enact data-driven change and become part of the solution.

“Camden Council understands the importance of empowering the community to tackle this vital issue head on. 

“This network will serve as a blueprint for boroughs across London and cities around the world, using the power of data to inform meaningful action and protect populations from the invisible threat of air pollution.”

Camden Councillor Adam Harrison said: “Camden’s citizens have made clear that more must be done to tackle the air quality health crisis, and Camden Council has committed to the meeting the World Health Organization air quality standards as well as stepping up our pollution monitoring and efforts to raise public awareness about the health risks from exposure to air pollution. 

“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.”

The dense network of sensor devices has been strategically designed to cover the entire borough of Camden, including areas under-represented by the existing monitoring network and those most vulnerable to air pollution – schools, transport hubs, healthcare facilities and busy intersections. 

Each device will measure a wide range of air pollutants including airborne particulate matter and toxic gases such as NO2, CO2 and ozone (O3), as well as temperature and humidity, giving the full picture of air quality in an area.

The devices will be installed on lampposts, buildings and other suitable infrastructure and take measurements every minute, enabling detection of the smallest of changes.

In London alone, air pollution is estimated to account for approximately 4,100 premature deaths every year, worsening the impacts of lung and heart conditions as well as other respiratory illnesses including Covid-19.

Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.

Recent articles