New UK partnership to provide more accurate & informed air quality monitoring

ACOEM has entered into a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work collaboratively with Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants (CERC) and FHCO (Cambridge).

After working closely on a number of projects, including the highly successful, award-winning Breathe London program, the three organisations have combined their expertise to provide the first truly holistic, state-of-the-art air quality ‘triangle solution’ of modelling, monitoring and management. Under the direction of Jim Mills (Founder, Air Monitors Ltd now ACOEM Air Monitors), David Carruthers (Technical Director, CERC), and Prof. Rod Jones (Principal, FHCO Cambridge), each part of the triangle is crucial to ensuring accurate and timely air quality data management. 

From compliance to informed intervention

Until relatively recently, governments and agencies responsible for monitoring environmental conditions were doing so purely to comply with regulations. However, this is no longer enough, and now these same authorities are looking to go beyond compliance, and invest in intervention techniques like restricting vehicles or tempering industrial activity to safeguard a more sustainable future.

The ability to make informed decisions based on quality monitoring data, accurate predictive modelling and specialised management is invaluable to any intervention model. Governments need to understand which intervention strategies are working and which are not. They will also need to rely on accurate data that considers the effect of weather, such as wind bringing pollutants from other regions, and periodic anomalies.

Identifying and distinguishing the source of pollutants

It is critical to be able to access a calculated emissions inventory that factors in the ratio of CO2 pollution to other emissions. To do so, modelling and mapping must be undertaken in a spatial context. The strategic solution devised by ACOEM, CERC and FHCO will not only improve pollution predictions but will also provide longer term accurate data and monitoring that will determine if the predictions were correct.

By using smart data analysis methodology developed by the three partners, vital information can be extracted from the initial monitoring data. An emissions index for combustion sources can be calculated by analysing the ratio of CO2 to other pollutants such as NO2, NO, PM, SO2, BC, etc. This provides information on source apportionment, to accurately identify the exact origin of the pollutant, and can assist a city or region in developing a more precise emissions inventory – an essential part of any air quality management strategy.

Automatic calibration of entire air quality monitoring networks

This scale separation technology can also be effectively utilised to calibrate networks of sensors or monitors, without the need for expensive, labour intensive calibrations. Scale separation will significantly lower running costs compared to traditional or transfer standard methods. Once the algorithms are established, they can automate the calibration of an entire network, providing a dynamic quality control mechanism which can alert outliers.

Combining scientific and technological advances

Each partner brings specific expertise to the table. ACOEM is a global leader in reference quality and hyper-local small sensor air quality monitoring technologies including the implementation of hundreds of AQMeshTM pods by ACOEM Air Monitors.

CERC successfully integrates its model and mapping techniques with hyperlocal data from fixed and mobile networks to accurately forecast air quality conditions days in advance, assess policy options and disseminate data to the public and the scientific community.

FHCO synthesis and interprets measurements and provides essential scientific inputs from Prof. Jones’ extensive experience in atmospheric science and meteorology to ensure ongoing quality management.

“This exciting collaboration provides the opportunity to combine high resolution data from ACOEM hyperlocal small sensor air quality monitoring networks with CERC’s state-of-the-art air quality model, ADMS-Urban, together with FHCO (Cambridge)’s advanced analytical techniques,” remarked David Carruthers, Technical Director at CERC.

“By doing so, we can greatly enhance air quality mapping, source apportionment, air quality forecasting and policy analysis in cities across the world,” he added.

“I see this as an important and strategic step forward for air quality monitoring, combining our collective skills to improve the depth, quality and value of information produced,” commented Prof. Rod Jones, Principal, FHCO (Cambridge).

“By doing so, we can take air quality activities into the realm of effective policy development, testing the benefit of intervention measures and ideally driving behavioural changes by the public.”

“The partnership allows us to tackle emission inventories in a new, more innovative way,” said Air Monitors Ltd Founder and now ACOEM Head of Strategic Business Development, Jim Mills.

“We now have the opportunity to really make profound changes to the way cities manage their air quality, helping to pinpoint where monitoring should be performed and identifying when steps should be taken to prevent incidents of exceeding the air pollution limit.”