Plymouth project set for national recognition

A pioneering Plymouth project is being celebrated as part of Clean Air Day 2017.

Led by Claire Turbutt, Plymouth City Council’s Advanced Public Health Practitioner, the scheme is based on the development of a low-cost air quality monitor that when worn transmits data to an app on a mobile phone.

The time, date and location of the reading is then stored on a cloud which eventually will be able to provide a real time map of Plymouth, potentially highlighting pollution hot spots if enough data can be collected.

Clean Air Day takes place on June 15 and this project will feature as a case study to encourage other local authorities to take air pollution seriously.

Claire explained: “The point of the project is to make it easier for people to protect themselves from air pollution and so make personal choices about it.

“But we also want to know more about how air pollution works in the city so we can target our efforts when it comes to improving cycle networks, and encouraging people not to drive but to cycle, take the bus or walk.”

Councillor Lynda Bowyer, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care added: “It makes me really proud to see projects like this happening in Plymouth. Our team works really hard and for them to be hailed as an example for others is testament to the service they provide for the people of Plymouth.”

The project is currently in the prototype stage, having been commissioned at a recent Data Play ‘Hackathon’ event which challenged local tech businesses firms to think about what they might be able to achieve by using stored council data once it has been made anonymous with all sensitive data removed.

Two local companies, Elixel and Controlled Frenzy, picked up the air quality data and started to work out if they could design a personal dosage meter for school children.

The project is currently in a trial phase with the technology companies testing the personal monitors they have created to see how the data they provide compares with the far more high-tech monitors.

So far there is a prototype website containing the data that has been collected during the testing period. With more than 100 schools in Plymouth a decision is yet to be taken whether to just focus on the city’s 67 primary schools or include secondary schools as well.

Claire and her team have since been contacted by three other local authorities wanting to know more about the monitors and it is hoped that in the future, a much larger pilot project will be rolled out in partnership across the south west.