Delivery company DPD has announced the roll-out of a major new air-quality monitoring programme across six of the biggest cities in the UK.
Project Breathe is currently live in London with 100 mobile air-quality sensors on the roof of DPD vans and 20 fixed units on DPD PickUp shops close to schools and play areas.
By the end of May, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Glasgow and Cardiff will join the initiative, creating a network of over 400 sensors in total, delivering 1.5 million pollution readings a day.
The sensors, which are the size of a broadband router, take readings every 12 seconds and measure PM2.5 – dangerous particles of pollution less than 2.5 microns in diameter – at breathing level, to provide real-time data designed to help visualise air-quality issues and identify hotspots.
The UK roll-out is part of a Europe-wide DPD programme in partnership with air-quality tracking provider Pollutrack, with a planned total of 2,400 sensors across 20 European cities by the end of 2021.
Once the sensors are installed and monitored for two months, DPD will provide air-quality information based on real measurements, street by street via Pollutrack’s AirDiag system for local councils to help in their policy making. The data will also be available to DPD customers and academics.
DPD currently has over 800 EVs on the road in the UK. In October 2020, the company announced plans to deliver to 25 of the largest towns and cities in the UK with zero- and low-emission delivery means by 2025.
Olly Craughan, DPD’s head of CSR, said: “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 measuring air pollution using our existing city centre fleet and facilities.
“Typically, air quality monitoring has just been based on fixed positions, whereas we are mobile and cover the whole of a city at different times. We will be providing real-time, breathing level readings that could help improve air quality for millions of people.
“We are already working with the team behind the Birmingham clean air zone and our data will play a key part in monitoring the real impact the zone makes, when it goes live on 1st June 2021.”