Mapping the data (2)

Following on from a previous post we have been grateful for the help of volunteers from the Breathe Easy Liverpool North group.

This post gives some further examples of the data gathered from our volunteers. The previous post showed some NO2 data captured by the Air Quality Egg sensors.

This post will share some example PM 2.5 data captured using the AirBeam sensors – more info on these sensors is available in previous posts.

The map below shows pm 2.5 readings for 26 Feb 2017 pm. Key roads are highlighted. The readings are generally green and good.

Below is the time-series equivalent of this data showing the data was captured between 16:28 and 17:09. The rise in the levels at the end of the chart may or may not be the result of higher traffic levels as peak hour begins. As always with this sort of data a lot of caution should be exercised before drawing conclusions or insights too quickly.

The map below is also for 26 February but this time during the morning. This time from 11:52 to 13:30. Again the readings are generally green.

There are a batch of readings coloured yellow which appear to be actually located in a large retail store. This can reflect internal local effects, such as a cafe or restaurant with gas burners for cooking. Again, interpretation of this data on its own should always be treated with caution.

The final mapping shared here is from 27 February 2017. All of these readings (more than 5,000) are green and show low levels of PM2.5.

This project is about trying to understand how this sort of data and technology can help. We will post further here on the lessons learnt from discussion with our friends at Breathe Easy and elsewhere.

Mapping the data (1)

The technical testing of the sensors has completed and we are grateful to various technical volunteers who have carried the sensors and given us feedback. This project has moved into engaging with the final user group who were always the focus. The aim is to engage with people who might benefit most from this technology and we were very lucky to find the Breathe Easy Liverpool North group, who are a great bunch of people and have been very welcoming to our efforts. We are very grateful.

We first presented to this group on 18 November 2016 to explain the objectives of the project. The group doesn’t meet during the middle of Winter and so we arranged to come back to them in February when their meetings started up again. By February we would have finished our technical testing as per the plan and we would have sensors for them to use if they were willing.

One Friday 3 February 2017 we presented to the Breathe Easy North Liverpool group again and we were grateful that there were two volunteers willing to take 2 sensors: one AirBeam to measure particulate matter and one Air Quality Egg to measure NO2.

We had some technical problems with the AirBeam which meant we didn’t get any data in the first 2 weeks, but early tests on the data captured by the Air Quality Egg looked positive. The mapping of two trips are shown below to illustrate what this sort of technology can do.

The map below shows the data from the Air Quality Egg (Tweedledee) for 20 February 2017. We won’t name the volunteer who captured this data for data protection and privacy reasons, however we are grateful to their efforts.

 

This data can also be looked at as a time-series and this is shown below. The readings start at approximately 14:00 and finish approximately 15:00 on 20 February 2017.

The goal of this project is to share these findings with the group to get their feedback and see if this tallies with personal experiences and local knowledge. Do the sensor readings agree with personal views on areas of poor air quality? etc.

The second mapping is shown below for 22 February 2017 with the same sensor. This shows similar routes but also some new areas of the city explored. This mapping does show more red readings than the previous mapping. Also, Breck Road is green and has good air quality readings for both trips. Chavasse Park is green, as might be expected for a pedestrianised area – giving some more confidence in the sensor readings. Again, this will be explored further with the group to see if this matches with personal experiences.

 

As above this data can also be shown as a time-series as below. This shows the readings taken between approximately 13:30 and finish approximately 18:00.

We will analyse more data and share that shortly. More to come.

Note: all the data here should be treated with caution. These are spot measures with low-cost sensors and so they should not be used as a basis for assessing air quality across a longer duration or a wider area. 

Citizen Science Air Quality: Project Introduction & Survey

Featured

Citizen Science Air Quality Project:  Air pollutants and healthier travel choices

Survey now live – available here!

Air quality is a national and global issue with significant costs upon the UK – estimated by the Government at £8.5-20bn per annum health impacts (Defra, 2010: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/69340/pb13378-air-pollution.pdf). This is twice the costs of physical inactivity and comparable to the cost of alcohol misuse to society (Environmental Audit Committee, 9th Report – Air Quality: a follow-up – Volume I, 14 November 2011). There is increasing national interest and recently Client Earth won a case against UK Government (http://www.clientearth.org/major-victory-health-uk-high-court-government-inaction-air-pollution/).

The whole of the city of Liverpool is declared an Air Quality Management Area for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) by Liverpool City Council (see: http://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/aqma/details?aqma_id=229). Air pollution is a contributory factor towards respiratory illness and related conditions, and directly affects health. An estimation of 239 deaths in Liverpool in 2010 were attributed to illnesses associated with air pollution (Public Health England 2014 ‘Estimating local mortality burdens associated with particulate air pollution’).

Liverpool Friends of the Earth are launching a Citizen Science project to investigate air quality awareness and perceptions within Liverpool and to investigate the question:

Can transparency of air quality data through citizen science increase awareness and empower people to make healthier travel decisions through reducing their exposure to air pollutants?

The project has been kindly funded by the Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group and is run by Michael King and Stella Shackel. The funding has enabled 4 portable sensors to be purchased. These sensors can measure the air pollutants: particulate matter, Carbon Monoxide and Nitrogen dioxide. Data from these sensors can be overlaid on Liverpool maps to show the pollution levels for the routes along which the sensors are carried. More information is at: http://liverpoolfoe.org.uk/air-quality-in-liverpool/.

Volunteers will be engaged in the data gathering and feedback processes to help understand how Citizen Science approaches can help individuals and community groups. The data generated could also be used in the future for other purposes, such as comparing air quality data with the presence of green infrastructure. Friends of the Earth also has a national air quality campaign: https://www.foe.co.uk/page/air-pollution-campaign-clean-air

This project is about investigating low-cost methods to empower citizens with information to help them understand air quality levels and decide for themselves how they might act. The air quality data collected will be made available on the Liverpool FoE website.

Please answer our online survey to assess air quality awareness and help to promote it by re-tweeting our tweets from our twitter @LiverpoolFoE. Please answer the survey if you can and contribute to our evidence base! Thank you!

Air Quality in Liverpool

Featured

We are looking at air quality within Liverpool as part of our local efforts.

We are currently running a “citizen science” project. To do this we are grateful for funding from the Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group.

This is a small-scale project with some simple objectives:

  1. We want to understand more about the different technologies that can be used to support citizen science initiatives around air quality
  2. We want to understand how these technologies, and the data they generate, can be used to help individuals and community groups.

No doubt there will be other learning along the way. For example, we are interested in how this sort of community-level engagement and “hyperlocal” data gathering can be used to supplement and complement city-level and national air quality monitoring and management.