What is the motivation behind the creation of this website?

Before, how could we know the air quality around us in Bristol? If we even knew where to go, we might go on Open Data Bristol, but it is impossible to find a dataset containing all the information we want at our location. We might find some parameters in some datasets. However, there are no good visualisations of the data. Why do we care? Air pollution is increasing due to growth of urban population and this impacts the economy and the environment. Therefore, how to improve the awareness on pollution?

Cities are becoming data-hungry but it means data is becoming more and more complex. This trend is also intensified by a new wave of low cost sensing such as the Smart Citizen Kit. Meanwhile, data analysts and citizens lose the comprehensive vision of data because they lack of clear, available and structured representations of the data. Therefore, Smart Cities strategy indicates that we should focus on the delivery of platforms for active citizen participation and the use of existing technology [8].

Why it is important to care about air pollution?

Global demography presages a growth of urban inhabitants in the future mostly due to the rural exodus and the natural growth of the global population [1]. This means that cities have to increase their effort in seeking a sustainable development and tackling issues such as air pollution [2]. However, most cities struggle to match the prescribed limits regarding air pollutants [3].

Moreover, a recent study considers air pollution to be among the top ten risks faced by humanity [4]. Indeed, apart from impacting negatively the environment [5], many studies such as [6, 7] show that air pollution and mortality are closely related. Air pollution and most notably particulate matter is a threat to health by increasing substantially the risks of contracting respiratory and cardiovascular diseases [9, 10, 11, 12] and it is also estimated to reduce life expectancy by an average of 8 months for urban UK residents [2]. Despite that pollution related deaths are decreasing across Europe because emissions of some pollutants are decreasing [14], it still represents about 450,000 premature deaths per year [13] and 25,000 in the UK alone [14].

Furthermore, particulate matter is estimated to cost £20 billion per year in health costs in the UK [2]. [15] even estimates that the damage caused by sources of air pollution could reach up to $277 billion dollars each year in the US. Therefore, there are both health and economic dangers regarding air pollution which is why it requires a great attention from the decision makers of the cities.

Using an air quality index

The levels (shown in the table below) for the air quality index are taken from the European Air Quality Index. We use this air quality index accross the website. Measurements of up to five key pollutants supported by modelled data determine the index level that describes the current air quality situation at each monitoring station. The index corresponds to the poorest level for any of five pollutants.

Pollutant name Index level (based on pollutant concentrations in µg/m3)
Good Fair Moderate Poor Very Poor
pm25 0-10 10-20 20-25 25-50 50-800
pm10 0-20 20-35 35-50 50-100 100-1200
no2 0-40 40-100 100-200 200-400 400-1000
o3 0-80 80-120 120-180 180-240 240-600
so2 0-100 100-200 200-350 350-500 500-1250


References

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2. Prashant Kumar, Lidia Morawska, Claudio Martani, George Biskos, Marina Neo- phytou, Silvana Di Sabatino, Margaret Bell, Leslie Norford, and Rex Britter. 2015. The rise of low-cost sensing for managing air pollution in cities. Environment international 75 (2015), 199–205. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2014.11.019
3. Kavi Kumar Khedo, Rajiv Perseedoss, and Avinash Mungur. 2010. A Wireless Sensor Network Air Pollution Monitoring System. CoRR abs/1005.1737 (2010). arXiv:1005.1737 http://arxiv.org/abs/1005.1737
4. Stephen S Lim, Theo Vos, Abraham D Flaxman, Goodarz Danaei, Kenji Shibuya, Heather Adair-Rohani, Mohammad A AlMazroa, Markus Amann, H Ross An- derson, Kathryn G Andrews, et al. 2012. A comparative risk assessment of burden of disease and injury attributable to 67 risk factors and risk factor clusters in 21 regions, 1990–2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Bur- den of Disease Study 2010. The lancet 380, 9859 (2012), 2224–2260. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61766-8
5. Karol Jabłoński, Roman Czyba, Tomasz Grychowski, Józef Wiora, Marcin Janik, Natalia Łomnicka, and Maciej Galeja. 2017. Multirotor platform with sensory head for measurement of selected air parameters. Journal of KONES 24 (2017). http://yadda.icm.edu.pl/baztech/element/bwmeta1.elementbaztech-dac1e854-5a85-47ef-b752-828774d2aa1e
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7. Lester B. Lave and Eugene P. Seskin. 1973. An Analysis of the Association between U.S. Mortality and Air Pollution. J. Amer. Statist. Assoc. 68, 342 (1973), 284–290. https://doi.org/10.1080/01621459.1973.10482421
8. T. Diez and A. Posada. The fab and the smart city: the use of machines and technology for the city production by its citizens. In Proceedings of the 7th in- ternational conference on tangible, embedded and embodied interaction, pages 447–454. ACM, 2013. https://doi.org/10.1145/2460625.2460725
9. Shrinivasabharathi Balasubramanian Sankaranarayanan Mahadevan Bedi Jatin- der, Karthikeyan Gnanasekaran and Nagesh Shenoy M. 2016. Com- plete Study of Factors Contributing to Air Pollution. Technical Re- port. Bangalore, India. https://www.analyticsvidhya.com/blog/2016/10/complete-study-of-factors-contributing-to-air-pollution/
10. H W Davies, J J Vlaanderen, S B Henderson, and M Brauer. 2009. Correlation between co-exposures to noise and air pollution from traffic sources. Occupational and Environmental Medicine 66, 5 (2009), 347–350. https://doi.org/10.1136/oem.2008.041764
11. Milena Jovašević-Stojanović, Alena Bartonova, Dušan Topalović, Ivan Lazović, Boris Pokrić, and Zoran Ristovski. 2015. On the use of small and cheaper sensors and devices for indicative citizen-based monitoring of respirable particulate matter. Environmental Pollution 206 (2015), 696–704. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2015.08.035
12. Frank J. Kelly and Julia C. Fussell. 2015. Air pollution and public health: emerging hazards and improved understanding of risk. Environmental Geochemistry and Health 37, 4 (01 Aug 2015), 631–649. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10653-015-9720-1
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15. Nicholas Z Muller and Robert Mendelsohn. 2007. Measuring the damages of air pollution in the United States. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 54, 1 (2007), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jeem.2006.12.002