London air monitoring project receives £1m donation

500 air monitoring sensors rolled out in London schools as part of eventual planned network of 10,000 across Greater London

One million pounds has been donated by the founder of a taxi firm to help fund a project to monitor air quality at schools in London.

Founder of Addison Lee, John Griffin, has donated the money to fund the first 500 air quality sensors at schools in the capital as part of a project run by non-profit organisation Change London.

One of the 10,000 AirSensa monitoring units set to be rolled out across Greater London

One of the 10,000 AirSensa monitoring units set to be rolled out across Greater London

The ‘AirSensa’ project has been designed by Change London to monitor and visualise air pollution — initially across the capital — down to individual street level in order to collate and share real-time information on air quality.

Deliveries of air sensor units are set to begin next month and the first 500 units will be installed and generating data within six months, Change London said.

Funded through sponsorship and private donations, the network will eventually consist of up to 10,000 sensors across the whole of greater London, including schools, business premises and other key locations.

This, according to Change London will make the AirSensa network the ‘largest single city air quality sensor network in the world’.


Each AirSensa monitoring unit will take continuous readings of key air pollutants and atmospheric conditions before transmitting the data to the project’s cloud platform. The data can then be used for a range of real-time apps “to help create targeted solutions”.

In schools, the data will be used to support a teacher support materials to enable school children to learn about causes and solutions to air pollution.

Change London

Funded by the private sector, member organisation Change London works with businesses, universities and government with the aim of making the capital a “healthier, more liveable and economically productive city”.

Change London chief executive, Jonathan Steel, said: “Poor air quality affects all of us, but particularly children. You can’t see emissions from road vehicles and domestic and commercial heating systems, but long-term exposure is damaging the health of everyone who lives, works or goes to school in London.

Jonathan Steel, chief executive of Addison Lee

Jonathan Steel, chief executive of Addison Lee

“We believe that it’s vital that we learn more about air pollution, and about the simple steps we can all take that can add up to a healthier city. The first step is to take accurate readings across London, and this is what the AirSensa project is designed to deliver.”

Change London advisory board member Jonathan Grigg — Professor of paediatric respiratory and environmental medicine and honorary consultant paediatrician at Barts and the London School of Medicine, Queen Mary University — said it was the “right of every child to breathe as clean air as possible”.

Professor Grigg said: “London is one of the most polluted cities in Europe – incredibly, I think. Poor air quality can reduce life expectancy, and gives rise to increased levels of cancer, heart and lung diseases in the population, low baby birth weight, increases in child asthma and reduced lung function.

Addison Lee

Addison Lee founder John Griffin commented: “As the founder of London’s largest minicab firm, I feel a responsibility to get this ball rolling. Change London’s approach appeals to me as it is about taking action. We can’t speculate about the quality of air, we need to know the facts; and we need to be able to look across London and — all together — take steps to change it.”

“I’m particularly interested in the schools element of the project – poor air quality is damaging children more than us – and I think that if I can help to enable the next generation to learn about air pollution and how to address the problems, that is a legacy I can be very proud of.”


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