News

Mayor working with The Alan Turing Institute to improve understanding of air quality in London

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has this week started a two-year collaboration with the prestigious Alan Turing Institute to explore ways to improve how air quality is modelled in London by collating existing and new data sources and enhancing the way it is analysed.

The work with the Alan Turing Institute will complement the Mayor’s existing work with other major London institutions, such as King’s College London, who work with boroughs and City Hall to undertake local air quality monitoring and to develop the London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory. It is taking place as part of the Turing-Lloyd’s Register Foundation programme in data-centric engineering, which aims to use data science to transform the safety and efficiency of complex infrastructure systems.

Currently, there are approximately 100 large air quality monitoring stations in London active at any time. However, the numbers and types of monitors and sensors are likely to increase significantly in the coming years, so it is increasingly important to set standards and develop flexible ways to incorporate these new sources of data collection in City Hall’s air quality modelling and analysis work.

Researchers will work with City Hall to develop state of the art machine learning models that will enable better air quality forecasting and modelling. These could then further inform policy to make targeted interventions that reduce the levels of pollution in key areas and at key times.

Recent research has revealed 7.9 million Londoners live in areas exceeding World Health Organization air quality guidelines. This new collaboration forms part of Sadiq’s hard-hitting plans to tackle London’s toxic air quality and comes just three days before the launch of the his new Toxicity Charge, which will help to remove older, more polluting vehicles from central London. When it is introduced on Monday 23rd October, the T-Charge will be the toughest emission standard of any city in the world, where the vast majority of pre-2006 vehicles will need to pay an additional £10 Emissions Surcharge to travel in the central London Congestion Charge zone.

The Mayor’s Chief Digital Officer, Theo Blackwell, said: “Working with the Alan Turing Institute will continue our efforts to harness London’s world-class strengths in data science and innovation to clean up the air we breathe to make life better for all Londoners.”

Theo Damoulas, Turing Fellow and Assistant Professor of Data Science at the University of Warwick, said: “We are very excited to be working closely with City Hall and bringing our data science expertise to bear on such an important matter for the life of Londoners.

“My group at the University of Warwick and the team from the Turing-Lloyd’s Register Foundation programme are looking forward to developing and deploying state of the art statistical and machine learning algorithms on the air quality sensor networks in order to extract knowledge, inform policy, and monitor interventions.”

-ENDS-

For more information, please contact: Chizom Ekeh (Communications Officer) cekeh@turing.ac.uk

Notes to editors

  1. The research taking place at The Alan Turing Institute is part of the programme for data-centric engineering, in partnership with the  Lloyd’s Register Foundation: www.turing.ac.uk/data-centric-engineering
  2. Earlier this week, the Mayor delivered a new online car checker designed to help motorists buy brand new cars with the cleanest, least-polluting engines. To access the Cleaner Fleet Checker visit https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/environment/pollution-and-air-quality/cleaning-londons-vehicles
  3. The Mayor has doubled funding spent on tackling air quality to £875 million over the next five years. Plans include:
  • Introducing an Emissions Surcharge (dubbed the ‘T-Charge) on top of the Congestion Charge, which will help remove older polluting vehicles from central London this year (starting 23 October 2017).
  • Launching the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which puts in place minimum emission standards for all vehicles (excluding taxis, whose emissions are addressed through separate licensing requirements). The Mayor proposes (subject to consultation) to apply these standards in central London from 8 April 2019, which has been brought forward from September 2020. They will then apply, in outer London for buses, coaches and lorries by 2020 and in inner London for all vehicles except taxis by 2021 (subject to consultation).
  • Spending more than £300 million transforming London’s bus fleet by retrofitting thousands of vehicles and a commitment to purchase only hybrid or zero-emission double decker buses from 2018 and with all buses meeting the Euro VI standard by 2020.
  • Making sure TfL no longer licence new diesel taxis from 2018, maintaining the maximum vehicle age limit and £65 million in support to the trade to help upgrade taxis to much cleaner, ‘zero-emission capable’ vehicles.
  • Introducing Five Low Emission Neighbourhoods (LENs) spanning eight boroughs and involving a range of local organisations, with funding for a further five business-led LENs. This is in addition to continuing the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund and together these targeted actions will tackle some of the worst pollution hotspots across London, with TfL contributing £14 million.
  • Providing alerts to Londoners during high and very high pollution episodes by issuing information on 2,500 bus countdown signs, at 140 roadside variable message signs and at 170 tube stations.
  • Established a Cleaner Vehicle Checker, enabling Londoners to check the real-world emissions from a vehicle they may be considering buying.