Air Quality Monitoring - Why and How

by Gary Atkinson | May 26, 2017

smart city technology


Air quality has become the primary concern effecting the urban environment in recent years, yet very little is understood about the specifics of how poor air quality affects us, or indeed how best to monitor it. You only have to walk along any busy road in any city or town to understanding the choking nature of car fumes, but what is bad? How harmful is the air? Should you walk or get into a car to protect yourself from the fumes? Does it differ significantly at different times of the day or in different weather conditions?

The realities of air quality

The realities of air quality are not as obvious as you would first expect. Firstly, there are many different types of gas that have different qualities and impact on health. The current way of measuring air quality broadly falls into two camps, the first is scientific monitoring equipment that is generally set up in a single location to monitor the air quality over a long period of time, these are very precise and offer detailed and very accurate data that can be used to understand the impact of certain gases in specific scenarios. The second method is using models based on some data points to create scenarios based on a set of rules and assumptions, these are often little more than guess work but can be useful in starting a journey to understanding what is happening at street level.

Most people living and working in an urban environment do not concern themselves with the science or the specific questions around air quality. Their questions are much more basic. Is it safe to cycle today? Can I take my kids to the park? If I have asthma can I leave the house?Air Quality Monitoring and why and how


Where and how do you monitor the air?

At enLight we believe that a high quality low cost solution that allows a town or city to generate a city-wide view of the status of their environment is needed. Deploying a relatively high number of sensors across a diverse and evolving landscape provides the best possible view of the quality of the air at street level. Allowing people to understand how far from a busy road is acceptable to exercise or take your kids to the park, being able to plan cycle routes across the city that are the ‘cleanest’ and not just the shortest or quickest is the level of information most people want to access.

We would like to see:

  1. A standard and consistent way of measuring air quality so people in different areas can compare like for like
  2. A minimum coverage of a city in order to get a realistic view of the impact on citizens
  3. Air quality data overlaid onto other data sets such as traffic type and density and weather conditions
  4. A way of predicting likely air quality the follow day


Using the data

We believe these measures would start to build an important view of the city upon which policy makers and citizens can better plan and take action. Our technology can provide a cost effective way of understanding the air quality in your town, get in touch to discover how we may be able to work with you to find a solution.


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