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Mayor Sadiq Khan and Michael R. Bloomberg make major new investment in air quality monitoring in London

£1.5m investment from Sadiq and Bloomberg to run sensor network

New website to display air quality information from 135 sensors in real time

Air quality sensors to be installed at hospitals, schools and other priority locations to aid London’s green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic

Additional 60 sensors to be allocated to community groups

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Michael R. Bloomberg, U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions, Founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, and 108th Mayor of New York City, are today announcing a joint investment in air quality monitoring worth almost £1.5m, to help ensure London’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is green and clean.

The combined investment – £779,000 from Sadiq and £720,000 from Bloomberg Philanthropies – will fund the day-to-day running of 135 air quality sensors across the capital, as well as further research and community engagement until November 2024.

From today, data from the sensors – installed at hospitals, schools and in local authorities to measure pollution locally – will produce real-time air quality data that Londoners can access on the new Breathe London website.

The website will – for the first time – bring together the data from London’s existing monitoring network, meaning once all the sensors are in operation it will host data from over 300 monitoring sites.

The Mayor also announced today a new sponsorship programme in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies and Imperial College London, providing an additional 60 sensors available to London communities over next three years. Organisations and individuals will be able to apply to host a sensor in a location of their choice from the summer, with all associated costs covered. The first 10 sensors will be released in the autumn.

Breathe London will focus on reaching communities that research shows are exposed to poor air quality and lack access to green space, including low-income and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups. As part of the Breathe London project and supported by the Mayor of London, Bloomberg Philanthropies is also funding a community project in Newham. Greener Together, a pilot project which aims to address environmental inequality linked to social and racial injustices in London, looks at building better relationships between local government and civil society with participative environmental programmes.

As part of the Breathe London project, sensors have already been installed at several hospitals across the capital. Community groups, charities, businesses, individuals, academics and boroughs are being encouraged to host a sensor in their area. Each London borough will receive at least one sensor and will work with their local communities to choose the locations.

In addition to the Breathe London sponsorship programme, community groups, charities, businesses, individuals, academics and boroughs will also be able to “buy in” to the network at a reduced cost. The sensor network will significantly reduce the costs of sourcing reliable air pollution data for local projects or schemes like School Streets. In the past this has been prohibitively expensive, often leaving communities with no data, or worse – extremely inaccurate data with no quality control.  Details about how to apply through the sponsorship programme or to buy into the network will be announced in the summer.

The work of the Breathe London network forms a vital part of supporting a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic by tackling environmental and health inequalities.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I am delighted that Londoners will now have access to real-time, accurate air quality data for their area from more than 300 monitoring sites. This will improve awareness and help people reduce their exposure to polluted air.

“The new website we are launching today will also help City Hall, TfL and the boroughs better target efforts on improving air quality at a local level. Thanks to support from Bloomberg Philanthropies we will be helping community organisations to monitor air pollution by enabling them to host sensors in a location of their choosing at no cost to them.

“As we look towards a recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, it is vital that we create a city that is cleaner and greener. Never has tackling London’s toxic air been more important, which is why I am taking these bold and innovative steps to improve it. But I can’t do this alone. Now, we need Government to step up and match my ambitions. If they give cities the powers and funding needed, we will be able to make air pollution a thing of the past.”

Michael R. Bloomberg, U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions, Founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, and 108th Mayor of New York City said: “I’ve often said, ‘If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.’ Improving air quality monitoring gives us the data we need to tackle sources of pollution and protect public health. Bloomberg Philanthropies’ partnership with Mayor Sadiq Khan and London will help do exactly that. Our joint investment will support high-quality air sensors across London and make localized air pollution data available in real-time online. That will help policymakers identify problem areas and take steps to protect those who are most at risk, including school children and residents of lower-income neighborhoods.”

Professor Frank Kelly is the Battcock Chair in Community Health and Policy at Imperial College, said: “The Breathe London sensor network is rapidly taking shape after intensive work over the past two months by our team at Imperial. The necessary data transfer and quality control systems have been put in place and nodes at hospitals across the city are already providing near real time air quality data via the new Breathe London website. The next stage of the project will see schools and local communities benefiting from this expanding network of sensors as we supply real time air quality information to more and more Londoners.”

Chinedum Nwokonko, Community Consultant for Greener Together, said: “Alma Street is one of the most promising areas for this project, featuring one of the most ethnically diverse communities in East London. It has multiple, closely linked, community clusters, and outdoor areas with fantastic potential to host fun and engaging programmes for residents. As partners in Greener Together, we want these programmes to strengthen community relationships, promote improvements in physical and mental health, and increase understanding of how the area is affected by air pollution and climate change. The time to act is now, and we have a great opportunity to tackle the environmental burden placed on the people who live here.”

ENDS

Notes:

– The new website, launching today, is https://www.breathelondon.org/.

– Imperial College London is one of the world’s leading universities. The College’s 17,000 students and 8,000 staff are expanding the frontiers of knowledge in science, medicine, engineering and business, and translating their discoveries into benefits for our society. Imperial is the UK’s most international university, according to Times Higher Education, with academic ties to more than 150 countries. Reuters named the College as the UK’s most innovative university because of its exceptional entrepreneurial culture and ties to industry.

– The Environmental Research Group, part of Imperial’s School of Public Health, is a leading provider of air quality information and research in the UK, combining air pollution science, toxicology and epidemiology to determine the impacts of air pollution on health and the causal factors.

– The Breathe London network will be combined with the London Air Quality Network (LAQN) reference monitoring network to form a single comprehensive source of real-time, and historic air quality information for Londoners.

– Hospitals hosting sensors are:

– Royal Free Hospital

– Great Ormond St

– North Middlesex University Hospital

– Whipps Cross University Hospital

– Charing Cross Hospital

– Royal Marsden Hospital

– St Thomas’ Hospital

– Newham University Hospital

– Guys Hospital

– Royal London

– The London Recovery Board is convened by the Mayor with London Councils, and has produced a detailed framework and plan for recovery based on extensive consultation with stakeholders and the public: https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/recovery_programme_overview.pdf

About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 810 cities and 170 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: The Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2020, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $1.6 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on FacebookInstagramYouTubeTwitter, and TikTok.

Media Contact:
Daphne Wang – Bloomberg Philanthropies, +1 646-771-1473, daphne@bloomberg.org

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