EarthSense and Tantalum using buses to monitor air pollution in Oxfordshire


One of the leading UK environmental monitoring companies, EarthSense, is equipping buses in Oxfordshire with sensors to measure levels of air quality to measure both emissions and street air pollution levels while they are on route.

A joint venture between aerial mapping company Bluesky and the University of Leicester, EarthSense is working with Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) and connected vehicle technology developer Tantalum to gain a better understanding of the impact of road traffic on dynamic air quality.

Vehicles within OCC’s Fleet Services department are being fitted with EarthSense’s Zephyr air quality measuring sensors that will give real-time data on both vehicle emissions and the local air quality along their routes. The data collected by EarthSense will be used to optimize traffic light control and coordination in order to manage and mitigate road congestion and pollution. The data will also feed into the county’s work with Oxford City Council as it prepares for the introduction of its Zero Emission Zone.

In addition to the use by Oxfordshire, data from the EarthSense Zephyr sensors will also be used to help Tantalum, working alongside Imperial College London (ICL), refine traffic emission models within the collaborative Air.Car project. Using the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart city technology, the award-winning Air.Car project will deliver the ability to drive a greater understanding of vehicle pollution, while enabling the reduction of environmental impact and vehicle operation costs. Solutions include a clean routing app for taxis, as well as smart, fair and affordable enforcement schemes for local authorities such as Oxfordshire.

“We have a special interest in projects that will help ensure that Oxfordshire is at the forefront of emerging technologies for air quality monitoring and management, especially in relation to traffic emissions,” commented Llewelyn Morgan, service manager for infrastructure, innovation and development at OCC.

“Working with EarthSense and Tantalum we will benefit from research already undertaken as well as new data, and therefore understanding, obtained through the use of the EarthSense sensors.”

Alex Willard, head of Air.Car, noted, “This is a major milestone in our project to develop services which will give power to drivers, businesses and government to reduce emissions and clean up our air. We are delighted to be working with Oxfordshire County Council and EarthSense to improve our traffic emission models. This will be invaluable in building a service advising drivers to take routes that will reduce their emissions, and also their exposure to poor air quality.”

Tom Hall, managing director of EarthSense, added, “It is essential to obtain accurate measurements in order to understand and solve air quality problems. This project will demonstrate how the best available technologies, including our Zephyr sensors and services from Air.Car, can provide solutions to drive change for improved air quality.” 

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About Author


Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).