A team from Cranfield University will be leading a rapid study of air quality throughout the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge Arc. The study starts at a time when Covid-19 lockdown measures are being eased and the scientists are keen to understand the effect of increased human activity on air quality within the region.
Funding for the study, which is in place until December 2021, is being provided by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The Arc has been designated as a key area of economic activity by the UK Government, who see enormous potential for growth in the region. One of the ambitions of the Arc, as set out by Government and local partners, is for any growth in the region to have a neutral or even positive gain on the environment. The Cranfield study will be key in understanding how development within the Arc impacts air quality.
The study will utilise Cranfield’s Urban Observatory which harnesses the latest sensor technology and includes environmental and infrastructure sensors to monitor behaviour and factors such as air and noise pollution and water usage. The data, analytics and visualisations can be used to view and compare infrastructure and environmental performance, quality of life and wellbeing, allowing the investigation of healthy and sustainable environments and the effects of planned change in a dynamic way.
Professor Neil Harris, Professor of Atmospheric Informatics at Cranfield University, who will lead the study, said: “According to Public Health England, poor air quality is the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK. The plans for growth within the Arc, to boost the UK economy, are ambitious. Our study will help monitor air quality levels in the Arc as lockdown is relaxed and provide evidence on possible measures to mitigate the impact of future development on air quality and health within the Arc.”