Pollution and IoT - using technology to clean our air

Discover the ways IoT is being used to monitor and reduce air pollution in city centres and beyond.

The issue of air quality is an ever-growing problem for cities across the world. World Health Organisation (WHO) research states that 91 per cent of people live in places where the air pollution exceeds recommended limits and every year 4.2m deaths are caused by ambient (outdoor) air pollution.

Many cities have already begun to implement ‘green' projects to help improve their air quality; for example, investing in infrastructure such as electric vehicle charging points. Another technology playing an important role in cleaning our air is the Internet of Things (IoT).

Along with utilising data streams from satellites, weather stations and governmental monitoring stations, measurements are now being taken by a swathe of new small, low-cost devices that have been developed as a result of advances in sensor, IoT and comms technology.

"Many local authorities already have networks of automatic monitoring stations in place based on IoT technology to capture data from various points to assess air quality," says Manish Jethwa, chief technology officer at software company Yotta. "Sensors can be installed on street lights - above the reach of vandals but low enough to measure the air people are breathing," he notes.

Data gathering

Using technologies such as machine learning, the data gathered can then be analysed to better understand the causes and locations of air pollution in order to take improved action to reduce pollutants and protect citizens' health.

Recording detailed air quality data is an important place to start and IoT is helping to improve this. Projects are currently underway across the UK, including one in Bradford and Birmingham, where air quality is being recorded on modular sensors and sent to BT data hubs for analysis at Bradford Council and the University of Birmingham.

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