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1 Trialling low cost monitoring equipment as part of the wider future evidence programme

Our project, OxAir, innovates by taking a 180° turn on the traditional barriers to the acceptance of sensors as an integral part of the LAQM toolkit. Rather than focussing solely on improving sensor technology as the fix-all, OxAir aims to establish and communicate best-practice, understanding and transparency in order to get the best out of AQ sensors. This in turn will contribute to local and national evidence supporting policy decision making, public information, public awareness and behavioural change. OxAir also shows great potential as a tool to demonstrate the effectiveness of measures to reduce air pollution, thereby contributing to improved cost-benefit analyses. OxAir, where possible aims to link its research up with other programmes e.g. Defra’s planned sensor test bed.

2 Supporting long-term solutions through awareness and behaviour change.
OxAir aims to explore the development of the next generation in LAQM tools that can deliver an evidence base on the spatial and temporal scales needed by local policy development today and in the future. By engaging with stakeholders, involving them in project delivery and making project outcomes accessible at all levels OxAir aims to promote awareness and behaviour change. As part of the work programme we aim to explore;
● A high-resolution evidence base that can contribute to;
᠆ improved, well informed, accelerated policies
᠆ fostering engagement between policy makers, the public and pressure groups
᠆ education via projects with schools and communities
᠆ helping monitor progress to target and avoidance of AQ displacement issues (no harm)
● Differential changes in NO2 and PM levels in Oxford e.g. road-to-road variations and diurnal cycles with the Council’s monitoring acting as a reference point of absolute values
● Day-to-day personal exposure to air pollution at high spatio-temporal resolutions
● Best practice / standard operating procedures (SOP) for ambient AQ sensors
● General and public service user needs for AQ information to promote understanding, behaviour change, personal and local government decision making
● Web based tools to facilitate and educate on choices that are relevant to Oxford’s residents and visitors
We anticipate that outputs from these exploratory activities will allow Oxford residents, urban planners and decision makers to take more tangibly account for the factors that lead to increased local emissions, concentrations and personal exposures. By facilitating knowledge exchange OxAir will allow residents to envision how they might adapt day-to-day behaviours and reduce both their emissions and exposure, such as changing commuting routes and/or time of travel.

Measuring & mapping air quality from a human perspective in Oxford

OxAir is a coalition co-founded by Empathy Sustainability and Oxford University to measure air quality in Oxford from a human, spatial and temporal perspective.  It is working with new technologies to map the city for different types of transport mode: walking, cycling, car and bus.


The project is at the leading edge of reliable, small, affordable mobile air quality technology and the outcomes will help to inform and encourage air pollution policy and as well as giving people in Oxford specific information about actions they can take to reduce exposure based on where they live, times of day and type of transport mode.


There will be an initial 4 week test protocol followed by a review and potential full scale project based on securing funding.  There is a wide stakeholder network interested in this project such as schools, citizen science and health researchers who are monitoring the project with the potential to be involved or do related research based on similarly calibrated equipment.  The core group consists of:

  • Empathy Sustainability

  • Oxford University Estates Transport Team

  • Oxford City Council

  • Ricardo Energy & Environment

  • Apertum

  • Oxfordshire County Council

  • Pedal & Post

  • Oxford Bus Company

  • The Oxford Pedestrians Association

  • Royal Cars

  • O2 (North Oxford)

  • Institute of Applied Health Research / Clinical researcher in Public Health

  • Others with technical skills, schools, citizen scientists

Electronic Diffusion Tube (EDT) NO2 sensors    -Alphasense

  • Electrochemical sensor, responds to NO2, but needs to be corrected to account for sensitivity to Nitric Oxide, Temp, Humidity, atmospheric pressure and ozone.

  • Can produce one-minute data. 

  • Battery powered, and should last up to a year before replacing batteries.

  • Talks to an Android phone via Bluetooth

Optical Particle Counter /Sensor OPCN2

(measures PM10 and PM2.5)

  • Measures and sizes particles as they pass through a laser detector chamber. 

  • Built-in data logger is basic, but third party options for recording data are being explored. 

  • Data collection and processing at the moment requires some expert input.  

  • The analyser needs a weather proof housing and USB power supply.

  • Analyser takes a measurement every 1.4 seconds and logs it in a standard CSV file. 

  • There are other options to control and log the data externally, these are still being developed.

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