Breathe London - a collaborative project led by Environmental Defense Fund Europe in partnership with the Mayor’s office to monitor London's air quality - has revealed data that shows some areas in and around London exceed legal air quality limits.
"What's that got to do with tech?" we hear you ask. Well, rather lot really. London is a vehicle hub and what it needs is fewer vehicle emissions. The solution to that, in part, is an increase electric vehicles (EVs), therefore emitting fewer toxic emissions and helping to bring down the levels of pollution.
You only need to look at Breathe London's website and click on one of its 100 fixed pollution monitors to track 24-hour data and it's easy to see that during times when it's less busy - i.e. from midnight to 6am - the levels of pollution often halve, before rising again due to traffic on the roads.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has already implemented some schemes to help lower pollution. In April 2019 the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) was introduced to deter drivers from entering a given zone. However, the £12.50 daily charge - which is in operation 24/7 - doesn't mean drivers cannot access the capital. By 2021 the ULEZ will be expanded to cover a wider region (to the North and South Circular roads, also known as the A406).
We've also seen increase in hybrid London busses and an increasing number of traditional London black cabs taking up the LEVC TX variant (that's the London Electric Vehicle Company's electric reimagination of the classic TX black cab).
Breathe London also collaborated with Dyson, utilising air quality monitoring backpacks designed by its engineers in cooperation with King's College London - see lead picture - to track childrens' walks to school and the levels of pollution.
It's great to see tech companies like Dyson get involved, and vehicle makers looking to support a greener future. Now it's time for even more to commit time and resources. The tech is here to track this crisis. The tech is also here to help fix it. It just needs that wider support and government backing to make a real, actionable difference.