The way forward for Smart Cities becomes clear

Over the past year, we’ve gained a new appreciation of the value of parts of our lives that we perhaps took for granted before. Some of the things we’ve learned have been hard to quantify. But one aspect of our lives that the pandemic has provided clear, irrefutable evidence for is the impact of human activity on the air we breathe.

Understanding the scale of what’s possible

According to the London Air Quality Network index, during the first UK lockdown in March 2020 air pollution in London decreased by up to 70%[i]. This reduction refers mainly to the levels of nitrogen dioxide from road traffic. There were far fewer cars on the road for a significant amount of time, so air pollution levels fell dramatically.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 7 million premature deaths around the world each year are linked to air pollution. This kind of extremely worrying statistic was already out there, but since the pandemic, the public has a heightened awareness that there is something we can all do about it.

Benefits across the board

Now, research shows that creating Clean Air Zones (CAZs) – effectively prolonging the positive effects on air pollution witnessed during lockdowns – could bring about long-term health benefits and boost the economy.

The Clean Air Fund commissioned CBI Economics to put some figures on the impact of reducing nitrogen dioxide through introducing CAZs in eight major cities in the UK. The analysis concludes that “By restricting the most polluting vehicles from entering the worst affected areas, CAZs are projected to deliver an average 18% reduction in NO2 across eight key cities… This could prevent at least 1% of deaths in local populations whilst injecting millions into local economies by saving lives and reducing illness and days off work due to NO2 exposure.”[ii]

As well as making the moral and economic case for action, the analysis also clearly states there will be costs to delaying. “To reap the greatest benefits, local and national governments need to act now.”

Pinpointing the worst affected areas

Being an integral part of the move towards cleaner air in our cities is one of the driving forces behind Amscreen and our work with Smart Cities. We understand that the conversations around where, when, and how to set up Clean Air Zones to be as beneficial as possible are happening right now, not just across the UK but worldwide.

The sensors built into our products – from bus shelters to billboards – can create a network of street-level, IoT connected technology that’s constantly monitoring via our RDM® (remote device monitoring) service. Air pollution (and noise pollution) data can be gathered and analysed on bespoke digital dashboards from particular areas at particular times without having to deploy any further resources or set up any new projects.

So while doing what we do best to deliver benefits to communities and advertisers, we’re also perfectly placed to help Smart Cities get their hands on the real-time, minutely accurate data they need to inform the urgent decision-making that has the potential to be hugely life-changing.

To find out more about the innovative projects and partners already putting this kind of data to good use thanks to our products, get in touch.

[i] Earth Day: Lockdown brings down air pollution by up to 70% in London | Evening Standard

[ii] The UK’s Clean Air Zones will save both lives and money – we need similar measures all over the world | Clean Air Fund

Photo by Lachlan Gowen on Unsplash