Innovative new project providing real-time air quality information

An innovative new project is providing real-time information about air quality in Harrogate and Selby.

The Wi-Fi enabled sensors measure a range of pollutants and send data to central website which collates information for analysis.

Councillor Tim Grogan, Selby District Council’s Executive member for Health and Culture, said: “This is using technology in a new and different way to give up to date information about air quality. Ultimately as the sensors are used more widely the data can then help not just with air quality monitoring but also with local decisions about traffic schemes and encouraging behaviour change around travel methods.”

Local authorities have a duty to produce air quality reports and ensure that key pollutants, that are known to affect the health of people, are monitored. Monitoring is undertaken via a number of different methods, primarily through the monitoring of nitrogen oxide in Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA) and other key locations

The AQMA in Selby covers the New Street and The Crescent area and the AQMA in Harrogate covers two locations in Knaresborough, one in Harrogate and one in Ripon.

Councillor Phil Ireland, Harrogate Borough Council’s cabinet member for carbon reduction and sustainability, said: "We’re always keen to improve the air quality across the district and have a number of schemes to help achieve this.

“To ensure these scheme work we rely on monitoring pollutant levels. These new sensors, using the latest technology, will help us achieve this adapt our approach to continually improve air quality across Harrogate and north Yorkshire.”

The two authorities are working with North Yorkshire County Council’s Smart Place programme to test out sensors that use LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network) connectivity to measure a range of pollutants including particulate matter, carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide.

In the future the sensors could be used more widely to support clean air initiatives by installing sensors outside schools and making the data available to the schools to support educational initiatives. It could also help to understand and identify any air quality issues around major developments, be used for highways and transport planning and to engage with community groups.

North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for digital connectivity and climate change, Councillor Greg White, said: “Technology is an increasingly important part of life and this work demonstrates the real benefits it can bring to our communities.

“Good air quality if vital to health and being able to measure it easily means problems can be identified, should they exist, and action taken.

“These sensors also allow us to know and understand the actual amounts of greenhouse gas emission in the air, which means we will be able to put strategies in place to support our climate change targets.

“It is clear there will be further advances as technology improves and we are committed to ensuring North Yorkshire is at the forefront of new developments.”

The Smart Places Programme, led by North Yorkshire County Council, has received funding from the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership to thoroughly test and demonstrate the value that a LoRa network can bring to the lives and livelihoods of those living and working in the county.

This project works alongside several other digital projects being led by North Yorkshire County Council to improve digital activity across the county. It is an opportunity to build the reputation of North Yorkshire and the councils involved as innovative places to live and work with the ultimate aim to accelerate opportunity and growth.