Air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) state that in 2012, around 7 million people died because of air pollution exposure. This accounted for one in eight of total global deaths. They estimate polluted air costs the world $3-5 trillion per year and affects 92% of people on the planet. Reducing air pollution could save trillions of dollars and millions of lives. In the UK alone, the economic cost of air pollution is an estimated £54 billion. Every year, over 40,000 deaths can be linked to poor air quality. This is without including new evidence that links with health issues such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
Public awareness of air quality has increased substantially in recent years. Since the Volkswagen emission scandal broke in 2015, the media has regularly covered exposure risk to humans. However, most of the time, pollution is an invisible threat. How can a non-expert avoid exposure to polluted air?
At EarthSense Systems limited®, we produce products to help visualize and manage the world’s air quality issues. With a mix of air quality sensors, modelling and data products, we can make the invisible visible. This can help create future smart systems, inform major investments, and assess historic exposure and future risk. By visualising the problem, we can make a real difference to people’s lives.
In September 2016, after several years of collaborating on air quality projects, Earthsense was born. The University of Leicester provides air quality expertise and highly skilled engineers. Bluesky International Limited brings the knowledge of geography and mapping, as well as the know-how to run and manage a start-up.
A critical area of our work is providing cost effective sensors to measure air pollution. Our Zephyr® sensors enable real-time measurement of air pollution in a variety of environments. Their unique design is perfect for mounting on to lamp posts or static areas, deploying in vehicles or even carrying in backpacks.
Using a reliable 2G mobile network, Zephyr® uploads data to Earthsense’s cloud database. The modular design of the Zephyr® means we can incorporate 4G LTE technology as it gets cheaper. This is ideal for low power, narrow bandwidth applications like uploading data. Engineering these products is a balancing trick. Our engineers must solve problems with proven technologies, while keeping the door open to new ones.
With the government focussing on clean air zones, we’re working on an exciting project with our partners, Cenex. Together, we’re developing a system to automatically activate the zero-emission running of hybrid vehicles along the most heavily polluted city streets. We will measure local air quality levels in real time, and upload them to a specially designed interface. When pollution levels are high enough, the system will trigger on-demand, zero-emission running instructions to hybrid cars.
But that’s not all. We model this data using our own FluidAir® modelling system and output it in an easy to understand way. Our powerful visualisations enable any citizen to determine how best to manage their exposure. They can choose the cleanest cycle route, the safest park for their toddler, and even the best street to live in.
This is an exciting time to be at the forefront of engineering and big data, when we can truly make a difference.