BT, Bradford Council and Birmingham scientists measure air quality

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The operator claims new digital InLink hubs, which replaced phone boxes, will help give a better picture of air quality issues.

Air pollution is being monitored by sensors integrated within BT’s new InLink digital street units (picture shows hub being installed) in Bradford and Birmingham.

Air pollution in the West Midlands affects around 2.8 million people, reducing life expectancy by up to six months and costing the economy up to £860 million a year, according to recent reports.

The two cities are the first areas in the UK to trial this air quality tech, which pulls air quality data from the streets, every minute, into hubs for analysis. This is undertaken by Bradford Council, and researchers and scientists in Birmingham led by the University of Birmingham.

Free services

BT says its InLink hubs replace traditional payphones across the UK to provide a range of free digital services to the local community.

They include free ultrafast Wi-Fi, phone calls, mobile device charging, community news and access to the emergency services.

Using InLinks to monitor air quality avoids additional street furniture and the embedded Wi-Fi transmits the information in real time.

The data from the InLinks in Birmingham will complement results from other air quality monitoring equipment used in the West Midlands Air Quality Improvement Programme (WM-Air).

A pressing need

Professor William Bloss, of the University of Birmingham, leads the WM-Air project.

He said, “There is a pressing need for more detailed measurements across cities such as Birmingham to deliver clean air science.

“It’s important for us to understand the levels of air pollution in the city as it can have a huge impact on the health and wellbeing of people who live and work here.

“We are exploring use of the new BT sensors alongside a number of initiatives we already have in place to measure air pollution and improve air quality.”

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Healthy People and Places, added, “This is a great way for us to get real time useful data from units that are already placed in the city centre.

“We all need to understand and take responsibility for the implications air pollution has not only on the environment but also how it affects our health, especially children, the elderly and people with heart and lung problems.”

More to follow

 Other cities are set to benefit from the air quality measuring features incorporated into the design of the InLinks over the coming months.

Neil Scoresby, General Manager Payphones and InLinkUK at BT, stated, “This is a great example of how BT is working with communities in cities like Birmingham and Bradford to explore how the IoT capability of the InLinks can support a range of smart city initiatives.”