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Air quality portal launched on Clean Air Day at Westminster schools

Published: 16 June 2022

To mark Clean Air Day, Westminster Council have launched an air quality online portal to view data in real time from sensors which have been installed at four Westminster primary schools, which will raise awareness of air quality and encourage sustainable travel.

St Joseph's Primary, Edward Wilson Primary, Wilberforce Primary, St Saviour's Primary are all part of Westminster Council’s air quality sensor pilot. The four schools who were selected as they have a high proportion of children travelling to school by car.

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Air Quality sensor

 

The Smart City team at Westminster Council, who use tech to engage residents and empower communities to drive change, have worked with EarthSense who produced the sensors and the online public portal, which allows the schools to view air quality levels throughout the course of the day.

By being able to see the levels of air pollution, parents, carers, pupils and members of staff will be encouraged to choose more sustainable methods of travel such as walking, cycling or scooter.

The online portal also contains information about the different pollutants, plus information and resources about what people can do to help improve air quality.

The council have supplied the four schools with information packs on air quality linked to this year’s Clean Air Day theme ‘Air pollution dirties every organ in your body’.

 

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Children on scooters going to school

Westminster Council are able to use the data received from the sensors to help with identifying measures to reduce air pollution in the city.

To improve air quality in the city, the council are also currently trialling Schools Streets, which doesn’t allow cars outside a school during drop-off and pick-up times, plus more than 1,000 electric vehicle charging points have been installed around the city and the council are committed to retrofitting buildings.

Darren Guttridge, Headteacher of Edward Wilson Primary School, said:

“The Air Quality project has encouraged the school to think much more seriously about the environment. It has served as a good opportunity to encourage much more of our community to travel to school by foot or bicycle, or even scooter.

“The school is named after the famed polar explorer, Dr Edward Wilson, who is credited for kick-starting the 20th century environmental awareness movement. On Clean Air Day, it’s another reminder about how we all have a responsibility to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and look towards more sustainable alternatives.”

Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg, Westminster City Council Cabinet Member for Air Quality and City Management, said:

“One of our key priorities is to improve air quality levels across the city, and I hope the data from these sensors will make everyone consider their personal actions.

“We want to see more people choosing an active and more sustainable form of travelling whether that’s cycling, walking or using a scooter.

“We can all do something to cut pollution and the council will work in partnership with residents, businesses and visitors to help improve air quality.”

Tom Hall, Managing Director of EarthSense, said:

“Monitoring measured air pollution concentrations and correlating these with local activity when pollution episodes occur helps to understand the impact of our personal actions. The MyAir® public web app allows communities to visualise levels of air pollution, providing insight that can help inform decisions to improve human and environmental health. With publicly shared data we can start to educate and engage communities and encourage new strategies such as car-free zones, low-traffic neighbourhoods and timed road closures to mitigate the unhealthy effects of pollution on little lungs.”

The council has aspirations to make more of its air quality data available for residents, businesses and academic institutions. Therefore Westminster Council have also been working with Ancoris | Award Winning | Google Cloud Premier Partner, who, developed a prototype aiming to collect and display data from all air quality monitoring locations across Westminster and report the data in a user friendly way. An early version of the prototype will be demonstrated at the South West Fest at St Georges Square SW1 on 25 June and the Westbourne Park Summer Festival on 26 June. It will also be in two libraries, Pimlico Library on the 22 June and Church Street Library on 24 June.