MD2352 C40 air quality hyper-local sensor programme - KCL

Type of decision: 
Mayoral decision
Code: 
MD2352
Date signed: 
06 September 2018
Decision by: 
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Executive summary

The Mayor has identified improving air quality as one of his key priorities. Critical to this is a comprehensive understanding of air quality in London and enhancing our monitoring and modelling capabilities. The GLA will work with C40, the Environmental Defense Fund and King’s College London to deliver an air quality hyper-local sensor network. The value of this programme is £900,000 (funded via philanthropy) with the GLA contributing up to £150,000 to King’s College London to deliver a ‘wearable’ air quality monitoring component targeted at school children. This will, for the first time, characterise real-world exposure of London’s school children to air pollution.

Decision

That the Mayor approves grant funding of up to £150,000 to King’s College London to fund the wearables component of its air quality hyper-local sensor network.

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

Improving air quality is a public health priority. Air pollution is estimated to be contributing to over 9,000 premature deaths a year caused by long-term exposure. There is also strong scientific evidence of the acute health effects of short-term exposure to very high levels of pollution, like those experienced during an air pollution episode. It is essential that coordinated action is taken to reduce exposure, especially amongst those most at risk such as school children (and the elderly).

Critical to doing this is having a comprehensive understanding of air quality in the city and enhancing our current monitoring and modelling capabilities. To do this the GLA will work with C40, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Google, AirMonitors, Cambridge University and King’s College London to deliver an air quality hyper-local sensor network.

The Mayor announced the GLA’s participation in a joint programme with C40 in December 2017 during his official visit to India and Pakistan. The total value of this programme is £900,000 with £750,000 in funding for this having been provided by the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, a philanthropic foundation.

A competitive process was undertaken by C40 to recruit the delivery partners, the winners were a consortium led by EDF. King’s College London participated in this process coming second. However, their bid included a particularly innovative and valuable ‘wearable’ air quality monitoring component targeted at school children. As a result, it was agreed that the GLA would contribute up to £150,000 to help fund this component (making King’s part of the consortium), as well as to more generally support the delivery of the hyper-local sensor programme.

The EDF Consortium have 100 fixed air quality sensors (AQMesh pods) to be deployed in (i) pollution hotspots, (ii) areas close to highly sensitive receptors and (iii) areas identified as experiencing an air quality management intervention during the project. King’s will deploy wearable sensors alongside this fixed sensor network by engaging schools and citizens living and working in the identified neighbourhoods. The communities themselves will carry the sensors as they go about their daily lives, travelling to and from school, work and home. This will raise the profile of the project, give communities a greater sense of involvement and empowerment and aid the dissemination of project outcomes.

The value of the decision falls within the upper limit of a Director Decision. However, approval is being sought via a Mayoral Decision. This is because this project forms a small part of a much larger programme which means it is, in part, exposed to the risks associated with the programme as a whole. In practice this means the success of the wearables project is linked closely to the success of the other components and ability of the delivery partners to disseminate the findings in a cohesive way. In addition, it is not clear what the findings of this project will be. Given that it will examine the exact exposure of young children in London to pollutants on a scale that hasn’t been attempted before, the data collected may prove contentious.

Objectives and expected outcomes

This work programme will contribute to the London Environment Strategy objectives:

• Objective 4.1 – Support and empower London and its communities, particularly the most disadvantaged and those in priority locations, to reduce their exposure to poor air quality.

• Objective 4.2 – Achieve legal compliance with UK and EU limits as soon as possible, including by mobilising action from London boroughs, Government and other partners.

• Objective 4.3 – Establish and achieve new, tighter air quality targets for a cleaner London by transitioning to a zero emission London by 2050, meeting World Health Organization health-cased guidelines for air quality.

The main elements of the work programme, its objectives and expected outcomes are set out below.

King’s College London ‘wearables’ component:

Objectives

• The data collected in this project will, for the first time, allow accurate characterisation of the real-world exposure of London’s school children to air pollution on a large scale;
• Evaluate the reliability and quality of wearable sensors;
• Facilitate engagement and educational activities, including teaching, assemblies and experiments, delivered to ‘hotspot’ schools;
• Produce and collate content for wider dissemination within the C40 project via websites and social media, to include a guide to the use of wearable sensors for education and engagement;
• Collect anonymised activity tagged personal exposure measurements of all children and teachers taking part in the intensive campaigns (subject to ethical and GDPR approval);
• Develop understanding of the exposure of children to air pollutants throughout the school day.

Expected outcomes

• Increased citizen engagement in the air quality sensor programme;
• London’s monitoring network extended at a hyper-local, personal level;
• A publicly accessible sensor test report detailing the performance of all tested wearable sensors against the predefined testing protocol, with recommendations for future use;
• A series of public-facing reports describing child exposure to air pollution within and around each school, home and travel route, with emphasis on modes of transport and active transport routes. Outcomes will be linked to GLA ‘school air quality’ audit recommendations;
• Technical report detailing the impact of engagement activities on pupil, teacher and parent attitudes towards air quality, its health risks and acceptance of actions to reduce emissions and exposure.

Equality comments

Children from a variety of backgrounds will be recruited for this research, with consideration of the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED).

The GLA has published an analysis on exposure to air pollution undertaken by Aether which shows that not only are there huge health impacts of pollution but the way these fall on the most vulnerable means that improving air quality is fundamentally about tackling social injustice and health inequalities.

The updated report considers pollution exposure in London in 2013 and considers how exposure varies by age, indicators of relative deprivation and ethnic groups in London. It also looks at total exposure (broken down by borough) and exposure at schools. Through the research described in this report, City Hall is seeking to understand inequalities in access to clean air in London and to consider how this will be improved by planned air pollution controls.

The research shows on average that the most deprived 10th of the population are exposed to concentrations of NO2 which are 25 per cent higher than the least deprived 10th of the population. It is important to note that hidden within this you also have pockets of extreme wealth with very high levels of exposure, e.g. those living in Westminster or in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Of the 360 primary schools located in areas of high pollution it is estimated about four-fifths are classified as 'deprived' with more than 40 per cent of the school children at a given school being eligible for free school meals.

In terms of ethnicity, whereas there is a normal distribution of exposure for white people, the pattern shows increasing exposure in areas that have higher percentage of non-white ethnic groups, with a particularly skewed distribution for the Black/African/Caribbean/Black British population. A greater proportion of mixed, black and other ethnic groups are exposed to levels of pollution that exceed the NO2 limit value than their proportion of the total population.

The design of the policies set out in this MD will benefit all Londoners, but due to the unequal impacts of pollution on the most vulnerable Londoners there is likely to be a positive effect in tackling social and health inequality of this programme of activity. Having a better understanding of air pollution, particularly at schools will also create new opportunities to take targeted and effective action in accordance with the GLA’s obligations in equalities legislation including the public sector equality duty.

Other considerations

 

Risk description (cause, risk, event, potential impacts)

Probability (1-5)

Impact (1-5)

RAG

Mitigation/risk response (state if the response is done or pending)

GLA Owner

1

It may be difficult engaging citizens and primary schools to take part in the wearables campaign

 

 

2

 

 

3

 

 

G

Work with Kings’ College and EDF to identify potential locations. Priority will be given to schools included in the Mayor of London’s ‘air quality audit’ programme and those participating in the NIHR-funded Childhood Health in Luton and London (CHILL) study, which is assessing the impact of the ULEZ on children’s respiratory health.

Rosalind O’Driscoll

2

King’s may not receive the ethical and GDPR approval.

2

3

G

King’s has extensive experience of school engagement in London through large cohort studies and the BreatheLondon project. If approval is not forthcoming the GLA can work with our Education and Data teams to revise proposal to ensure ethics and GDPR standards are met. There will also be a Project Advisory Committee (PAC) including but not limited to input from health groups and a citizen representative. The GLA will not handle any personal data.

Rosalind O’Driscoll

3

Key deliverables, such as the data platform, may not be delivered on time.

3

1

G

Work closely with delivery partner (EDF) to ensure workload is completed as planned. Weekly catch-ups timetabled to assess if elements of the project are slipping and discuss how workload could be restructured to ensure there is no major slippage in key deliverables.

Rosalind O’Driscoll

4

The wearables component is not integrated effectively with the other components of project.

2

4

A

King’s will be key attendees of the weekly catch-ups, ensuring all components of the project move forward together. Schools selected for the wearables study will host one of the fixed air quality sensor units for the duration of the campaign, providing a longer term more reliable assessment of air quality in the school grounds (and improved data quality of the wearable sensors). Google cars will pass by the school during the campaign, providing an exciting new component to outreach and engagement activities, in addition to enhanced air quality mapping around the school.

Rosalind

O’Driscoll

 

Impact assessment

 

4.1       A comprehensive Integrated Impact Assessment was undertaken to support the London Environment Strategy (LES) which covered air quality, including proposed action at schools and nurseries. The Integrated Impact Assessment (IIA) found that the GLA had considered aspects for improving London’s air quality based on four policy options. This was recognised in the LES IIA as the most effective approach for addressing human health impacts. The LES includes targets for some of the pollutants identified in the IIA recommendations. The GLA agreed that it would look to include specific interventions to improve air quality around schools, hospitals and care homes.

 

Links to Mayoral Strategies

 

4.2       Policy 4.1.2 of the London Environment Strategy (Improve the understanding of air quality health impacts to better target policies and action) includes the proposal:

 

Proposal 4.1.2.b: The Mayor will work with boroughs to safeguard the existing air quality monitoring network, and enhance it by exploiting new technologies and approaches such as personal and localised monitoring

 

4.3       The strategy explicitly recognises the importance of both the C40 sensor project and advancing understanding of how and when to use personal monitors:

 

            “The Mayor will work with boroughs and other partners to encourage innovation in monitoring, starting with a new sensor monitoring trial in partnership with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. This is a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change and air pollution.

 

            It is getting easier for people and groups to buy personal and relatively low cost monitoring systems. These can be valuable tools, but knowing how best to use and locate the monitors is vital if the results are to provide meaningful information. It is also important to understand the limitations of monitoring equipment, and how best to interpret and publish results. The Mayor will offer guidance and advice on how air quality is monitored in London, and help people understand what type of equipment is available.”

 

 

4.4       This programme is in conformity and takes forward the commitment set down in the London Environment Strategy.

 

Financial comments

Mayoral approval is sought to grant King’s College London up to £150,000 to fund the wearables component of its air quality hyper-local sensor network. The grant will be paid in stages during 2018-19 and is to be funded from Environment team’s 2018-19 Air Quality budget.

Planned delivery approach and next steps

Activity

Timeline

Procurement of contract [for externally delivered projects]

August 2018

Announcement [if applicable]

na

Delivery Start Date [for project proposals]

October 2018

Final evaluation start and finish (external) [delete as applicable]:

Start: July 2019

Finish: November 2019

Delivery End Date [for project proposals]

November 2019

Project Closure: [for project proposals]

December 2019

 

 

 

Activity and deliverable deadline

2018

2019

J

A

S

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Wearable sensor quality assurance and control

                                   

Fieldwork

                                   

D1: Sensor test report

     

                           

School deployments within pollution hotspots

                                   

Fieldwork

                                   

D2: Engagement activities delivered to each school

                     

           

D3: Public-facing school exposure reports

                         

       

D4: Production and collation of content within the C40 project

                     

           

D5: Anonymised activity tagged personal exposure database

                       

         

D6: Technical report detailing the impact of engagement activities

                               

 
Appendices and supporting papers

Appendix 1

The main elements of the work programme, its objectives and expected outcomes are set out below.

C40 air quality sensor programme:

Objectives

• Create a robust, open access, real-time, hyperlocal data set for data collected for 12 months from summer 2018 that incorporates, where possible, fixed, mobile and wearable data into a unified set, showing an unprecedented level of detail about London’s air quality.
• Create two data analysis platforms, open source and capable of integrating London’s existing networks (air quality data sets and others, as appropriate, including AURN, AEA Ricardo’s network and LAQN, where possible).
• Develop an algorithm for analysing multi-fidelity datasets that use high accuracy reference measurements to characterize lower accuracy low cost sensor measurements.
• Create a public website that incorporates the data in innovative ways (design and functionality always subject to the level of funding made available), including presenting health impacts. AirText will remain a separate service, but EDF and its partners and affiliates will aim to increase AirText subscribers and/or subscribers/followers of the new platform by 100%, from 15,748 to 30,000+ regular subscribers in the case of AirText, by the end of the pilot.
• Subject to additional funding, a new, innovative user-friendly mobile app that incorporates the data sets and presents the data in innovative ways, including using health impacts, as well as create an “action” element allowing users to advocate for proactive policies.
• Ensure Google Earth Outreach convenes conversations with GLA on air quality mapping needs and the potential of an augmented mapping tool for pedestrians and cycling.
• Create, with Google Earth Outreach, a “storytelling platform” that will allow citizens to input their experiences with air pollution and help connect them to existing air pollution citizen groups. Google Earth Outreach intends to make this platform available to the public, at no cost, upon its creation.
• Incorporate wearable data into the fixed and mobile data set, website, app (if developed), and support use of success stories from children’s individual exposure and health impacts around schools.

Expected Outcomes

• London will have an enhance and advanced air quality network, with can be replicated in other world cities.
• New data platforms to enhance public awareness and support world class research.
• Participate in three events to present pilot updates and outcomes.

Final Analysis containing:

• Project components that lend themselves to replicability, including both non-technical information such as project plans, advisory group terms of reference etc. to make it as simple as possible for other cities to replicate, as well as detailed documentation on study design, including for example rationale for source apportionment methodology, route selection, site selection methodologies, calibration methodologies etc.
• “Making the case”-type arguments derived from data analysis that the Mayor can use to enlist support from Londoners.
• A summary section on how this type of sensor network may be able to support policy evaluations and the effectiveness of interventions.
• A summary section on how the data was used to evaluate the effectiveness of existing GLA policies.
• A summary section on the high priority areas for action by the GLA.
• A short report on the method developed to analyse correlations between CO2 and health-impacting air pollution, and how this can be replicated in other cities.


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