BT works with Bradford Council and scientists in Birmingham to measure air quality

Air pollution is being monitored by sensors integrated within new InLink digital street units in Birmingham and Bradford - as they become the first areas in the UK to benefit from ‘real-time’ air quality data via the high-tech hubs.

Air quality data is collected every minute from Internet of Things (IoT) modular sensors which can send data over the InLinks’ ultrafast integrated Wi-Fi. Data is then available via BT’s data hub for analysis by Bradford Council and a group of researchers and scientists in Birmingham, led by the University of Birmingham, to help monitor air pollution in the area.

InLinkUK from BT is a state-of-the-art digital “hub” that replaces traditional payphones across the UK. The InLink units provide a range of free digital services to the local community including free ultrafast Wi-Fi, free phone calls, free mobile device charge, community news and easy access to the emergency services.

Utilising the InLinks for air quality monitoring avoids the need for additional street clutter, with the Wi-Fi providing a reliable way to transmit the information in real time.

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

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, said: “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. Being able to use this data from the city centre will add to the number of initiatives we already have in place to tackle air pollution and improve air quality.”

Neil Scoresby, General Manager Payphones and InLinkUK at BT, said BT was excited to be supporting initiatives to measure air pollution in both Bradford and Birmingham.

“By collecting air quality data at multiple points and more often, it is possible for Bradford Council and WM-Air in Birmingham to gain a much better understanding of air pollution in real time via the BT data hub.

“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.”

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

About BT

BT’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed-mobile products and services. BT consists of four customer-facing units: Consumer, Enterprise, Global and Openreach.

For the year ended 31 March 2019, BT Group’s reported revenue was £23,428m with reported profit before taxation of £2,666m.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.