Project identifies clear air for city cycling and walking

Combination of air quality and mapping data lays ground for identification of routes in urban spaces

A project involving the University of Leicester and national mapping Ordnance Survey has led to the release of product that identifies clean cycling and walking routes around Britain.

Cyclist on bridgeEarthSense Systems, a joint venture between the university and aerial mapping company Bluesky, has begun to produce city-wide visualisations of air quality to highlight areas of lower pollution, such as through parks and along canal paths.

It uses data from a network of sensors installed by the project and combines it with OS Open Greenspace, the dataset of green spaces around the country.

It also takes other inputs, such as satellite observations, weather conditions and traffic emission levels for input into the MappAir modelling system. This makes it possible to identify the cleaner routes and provide data for forecasting.

The data is available hourly with a forecast up to the three days, and resolutions of 10 metres for full city maps and 1 metre for detailed study areas.

Clear info

Phillip Wyndham, strategic development manager at Ordnance Survey, said: “The data provides clear information to the public, allowing them to make decisions on the best, and cleanest walking and cycling routes to take.

“The insights gained from such modelling can also be used by policy makers and city planners to make practical interventions around mitigating hot spots, such as traffic light phasing, coordination of street works or correctly maintained urban trees and hedges which can trap many harmful pollutants.

“Data visualisation with a geospatial backdrop is a powerful way to analyse and display data from other third party sources, and this is exactly the type of innovation which OS OpenData is designed to support.”

The move has come as the Government has published its Clean Growth Strategy, which includes a commitment to invest £1.2 billion into making cycling and walking the natural choice for shorter journeys.

Image from Thomas Tinlen, CC BY 2.0 through flickr