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


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