Delivery company DPD is rolling out mobile air quality monitoring across six of the UK’s biggest cities with the help of its van fleet and facilities.
The project (see video here) will be fully live by the end of May, providing a network of over 400 sensors in total and giving a reading every 12 seconds on levels of PM2.5 – which are particularly deadly particulates linked to many diseases including cancer and asthma.
This will deliver 1.5 million pollution readings a day, providing real-time data to help visualise the UK’s air quality issue and identify hotspots. Crucially it will bring a mobile approach to air quality monitoring, which has previously been focused on fixed positions. The data will be available for local councils to help in their policymaking, as well as DPD customers and academics.
Dubbed Project Breathe, the programme has already deployed 100 mobile air quality sensors in London on the roofs of DPD vans and 20 fixed units on DPD PickUp shops close to schools and play areas.
This will roll out within the next few weeks to Leeds, Manchester, Glasgow, Cardiff – and also Birmingham, where DPD is working with the team behind the forthcoming Clean Air Zone; the new data will play a key part in monitoring the real impact the zone makes, when it goes live on 1 June 2021.
The UK roll-out is part of a Europe-wide DPD programme in partnership with expert air quality tracking provider Pollutrack, with a planned total of 2,400 sensors across 20 European cities by the end of 2021.
It’s the latest work by DPD to tackle air pollution. It’s already deployed more than 800 electric vehicles on the road in the UK and, in October 2020, announced plans to deliver to 25 of the largest towns and cities in the UK with zero and low-emission delivery means by 2025. DPD also joined the UK Electric Fleets Coalition in November 2020.
Olly Craughan, DPD’s head of CSR, commented: “BREATHE is a hugely significant project for us and complements our 2025 strategy to deliver via electric vehicles to 25 cities in the UK. We will be providing real-time, breathing level readings that could help improve air quality for millions of people.
“The initial Covid lockdowns really highlighted the issue of air quality, as people got used to quieter roads and cities. We hope that local authorities, other key stakeholders and academics can utilise this data to help inform further research and local decision-making.”