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London air quality monitoring improved with new project

Air quality in London is set to be better monitored, thanks to the launch of a new project between the Alan Turing Institute and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan – led by Dr Theo Damoulas of the University of Warwick.


The venture – launched this week – will explore ways to improve how air quality is modelled in the capital, by drawing together data from existing and new sensors, and enhancing the way this data is analysed.

The researchers will develop state-of-the-art machine learning models that will establish a real-time connected network of sensors, across London - enabling more effective air quality forecasting and modelling than is currently available.

These models will establish the most effective places to site future sensors, and inform policy to make targeted interventions that reduce the levels of pollution in key areas and at key times.

Currently, there are approximately one hundred large air quality monitoring stations active in London at any time. The numbers and types of monitors and sensors are likely to increase significantly in the coming years.

It is therefore increasingly important to set standards and develop flexible ways to incorporate these new sources of data collection in City Hall’s air quality modelling and analysis work.

The project is taking place as part of the Turing-Lloyd’s Register Foundation programme in data-centric engineering, which aims to use data science to transform the safety and efficiency of complex infrastructure systems.

Dr Theo Damoulas is Assistant Professor in Data Science at the University of Warwick, with a joint appointment in Statistics and Computer Science. He is also a Turing Fellow, and is leading this project. He commented:

“We are very excited to be working closely with City Hall and bringing our data science expertise to bear on such an important matter for the life of Londoners.

“My group at the University of Warwick and the team from the Turing-Lloyd’s Register Foundation programme are looking forward to developing and deploying state of the art statistical and machine learning algorithms on the air quality sensor networks in order to extract knowledge, inform policy, and monitor interventions.”

The Mayor of London’s Chief Digital Officer, Theo Blackwell, said:

“Working with the Alan Turing Institute will continue our efforts to harness London’s world-class strengths in data science and innovation to clean up the air we breathe to make life better for all Londoners.”

Air quality in London has improved in recent years as a result of policies to reduce emissions, primarily from road transport. However, significant areas still exceed NO2 EU Limit Values. Poor air quality has particularly been identified as a threat to health, with an estimated 9,000+ Londoners dying early every year. Similar issues affect most cities across the UK and Europe.

Image: Dr Theo Damoulas - credit University of Warwick (click for high res).

25 October 2017

Further information contact:

Luke Walton, International Press Manager

+44 (0) 7824 540 863

+44 (0) 2476 150 868

L dot Walton dot 1 at warwick dot ac dot uk


Read more about the project here.