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Google cars to map out London’s pollution hotspots

Two Google Street View cars are to be equipped with mobile air quality sensors under a new project to identify London’s toxic air hotspots.

London smog street

The Breathe London project will identify London’s pollution hotspots

Part of the new ‘Breathe London’ air quality monitoring network – said to be the world’s largest – the vehicles will take pollution readings approximately every 30 metres at tens of thousands of locations around London’s streets over a year.

They will be joined by 100 fixed sensor pods that will be mounted on lampposts and buildings close to known air quality hotspots and sensitive locations such as schools and nurseries.

The plan is to create a comprehensive picture of London’s air quality and identify sources of pollution. Data will be available for the public to view on an interactive online map on the Breathe London website. The map will show Londoners the condition of the air they are currently breathing and allow more accurate pollution forecasting.

The project, first announced a year ago, builds on London’s existing air quality monitoring network, operated by the boroughs and King’s College London, and is being run by as part of the capital’s participation in the C40 Climate Leadership Group global alliance on climate change and could be deployed in other cities.

Karin Tuxen-Bettman, Google Earth Outreach, said: “We hope to help make air pollution information more accessible and useful, so that citizens and governments can use it to make decisions.

“Environmental air quality is an issue that affects everyone due to the potential health and environmental impacts it has. Environmental issues have long been a priority for Google which we tackle daily with several teams such as the Google Earth Outreach who have been the key driver of this project for Google.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.