Trinity and DPD team up in new air quality monitoring project

Researchers from Trinity’s Air Pollution Research Group in the School of Engineering are working with DPD Ireland on a newly launched air quality monitoring project.

The project uses smart sensors on buildings and delivery vans to track Dublin’s air quality in real-time. The information will be shared for free with Trinity and other leading universities, local authorities, the Asthma Society of Ireland, and the public, as part of a new sustainability initiative of DPD Ireland to support awareness around Dublin’s air quality.

The parcel delivery company has partnered with Pollutrack to install air quality sensors on 22 buildings and 102 vehicles in the capital. They are working closely with universities and Dublin City Council, and have installed sensors in libraries, DPD depots, schools and a fire station.

In Trinity, a sensor has been installed in New Square, to capture Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 levels in real time and transmit the data every 12 seconds via GSM to a database developed by Pollutrack. PM2.5* is generated by the burning of fossil fuels and can be harmful if it enters the lungs or blood stream, especially for people with asthma.

John Gallagher, Assistant Professor in Environmental Systems Modelling at Trinity, said:

“Increasing the availability of air quality data by installaing one of these monitors on the Trinity campus is something that we in the Air Pollution Research Group are delighted to support.

“The extensive monitoring network will feed into a city-wide dataset that can improve how we map air quality in Dublin, and more importantly help us target pollution hotspots and design informed solutions across the city.”

DPD Ireland chief executive Des Travers said the company is installing the sensors across Dublin city as an act of faith, using its existing fleet for a social good. He said:

“If we put the right information in the right hands, we hope to make a positive influence on people’s lives in Dublin. Our vans are gathering incredible data about Dublin’s air quality, which we will give to universities and city authorities. It is our gift to Dublin, because information inspires action.”

The data produce air quality maps and hotspots – areas which detect higher than average PM2.5 levels most of the time. Anybody can check the quality of their own street by logging onto Air Diag – a portal to see how much PM is in the air in your street.

DPD Ireland is working in liaison with Dublin City Council and the Environmental Protection Agency to put the data to use. This air quality monitoring project has already been rolled out by DPD group in 20 European cities including Paris, Madrid, London, Berlin and Glasgow.