Bicester monitoring project to provide ‘near-real time’ pollution data

A project funded by the UK Space Agency and taking place in Bicester this month aims to demonstrate the benefits of integrating space-enabled technologies in urban air quality management, organisers have said.

The Urban Healthy Living project, funded by the Space Agency’s ‘Space for Smarter Government’ programme, will involve collaboration between air quality monitoring specialist EarthSense, satellite imaging firm Geospatial Insight and consultancy firm Redshift Associaties.

A mobile Zephyr deployed in a hybrid Toyota Yaris measured real time levels of NO2 during peak times

Through the project, Cherwell district council is looking to manage traffic flow, encourage active travel and raise awareness of air pollution in the town of Bicester to reduce the local impact on the environment and improve the health of the population.

The project aims to map levels of NO2 across Bicester, presenting an overall picture of air quality.

EarthSense Zephyr monitors are being used in the three-week demonstration providing accurate information on the concentrations of harmful air pollutants like nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particle matter (PM2.5) and ozone (O3) in the area.


Providing a combination of air pollution sensors and near real time air quality modelling, the partners say, will help to identify air pollution hot spots and exposure levels.

The portable Zephyr air quality sensors were used to undertake mobile monitoring of pollutants over the course of a demonstration day in Bicester yesterday (25 September).

Air pollution data was captured by the Zephyr along key routes in Bicester according to mode of transport: in-car, walking and cycling.

A mobile Zephyr deployed in a hybrid Toyota Yaris, provided by Inchcape Toyota in Bicester, measured real time levels of NO2 during peak times throughout the day.

The data will be integrated into EarthSense’s air quality mapping tool, MappAir, enabling an ongoing source of reference on air pollution exposure in different conditions (for example, changing weather and traffic profiles).

Satellite, traffic and meteorological data will supplement the measurements, giving “near real-time air pollution modelling” with hourly mapping of NO2 concentrations overlaid onto street mapping.

Healthy New Towns

Bicester is part of the “Healthy New Towns” programme, funded by NHS England and led by Cherwell District Council, which encourages residents to lead healthy and sustainable lifestyles.

Public displays of the changing patterns of air quality will be on show in Bicester’s Public Library and Leisure Centre for the duration of the trial, enabling local people to choose cleaner air routes. Members of the public will be able to view the data and focus on any area or time of day in Bicester via the web-based desktop dashboard or at one of the community engagement events.

EarthSense Managing Director Tom Hall, said: “The Bicester air quality demonstration, undertaken as part of the Urban Healthy Living project, has huge potential for enhanced policy delivery in key areas like healthcare and urban air quality management.

“Understanding air pollution with robust monitoring and modelling capabilities is the first step to planning healthy, safe and sustainable future cities. We are excited to be part of this journey.”

EarthSense is among the companies presenting at the National Air Quality Conference in London next week (4 October). Click here for details.


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