Pigeon Air Patrol reports London’s air quality to tweeters

Plume Labs sends a fleet of racing pigeons into the sky to monitor London’s pollution index.

This week in London, air pollution app, Plume Labs sent out a flock of pigeons on a mission to provide real-time air reports to Twitter users. The Pigeon Air Patrol campaign aims to raise awareness about the high level of pollution in the city’s skies. The pigeons, all known by name, were released on Monday to gather air quality data for three days.

Professional racing pigeons were equipped with tiny pollution-monitoring backpacks containing a series of environmental sensors that are able to process air quality mid-flight. Lightweight pollution sensors made by Plume Labs were stitched onto fabric vests, which fitted comfortably on the pigeons and measured degrees of nitrogen dioxide and ozone – the main gases behind harmful urban air pollution.

Tagged with GPS technology, the pigeons reported accurate pollution recordings of exact spots around London, mapping out London’s air quality in real time. The reports were released on Twitter, which was used as a platform to interact with Londoners. Local tweeters were encouraged to learn about the air quality rating in their areas by tweeting the handle, @PigeonAir in order to receive a report from a pigeon.

Plume Labs uses sensor technology to help individuals track and reduce their exposure to air pollution. The company’s ratings range from moderate to extreme and there is even a “pollution black spot” rating to indicate areas in the city that should be avoided.