RAC to launch Australian-first air quality sensor network

7 September 2022

Panorama of lemon scented gum trees and Perth Central Business District from Kings Park, Perth, Australia on 25 October 2019

Australian ICMIF member RAC has unveiled plans to launch the most comprehensive air quality monitoring network in the country, with Perth joining cities such as London, Paris and Los Angeles in the use of world-leading technology.

The RAC Air Health Monitor will be powered by hundreds of sensors, showing hour-by-hour changes to the air quality across Perth’s metropolitan area through a publicly available online tool.

RAC General Manager External Relations, Will Golsby said the network will highlight the impact of harmful pollutants from vehicles and other sources on everyday lives.

“The level of local insights we’ll see from this network will be game-changing,” Mr Golsby said.

“It will support government policy changes and investment while empowering the Perth community to know the air quality in their area and make individual choices in support of a cleaner, healthier Western Australia (WA).”

Air pollution was attributed to more than 3,200 Australian deaths in 2018 – a 26 per cent increase from 2015 – yet there remains a lack of quality data to inform the community and decision-makers.

The RAC Air Health Monitor will use a network of sensors developed by Californian air sensing technology firm Clarity Movement, one of the architects behind the globally recognised Breathe London initiative.

The air quality sensors provide real-time measurements of pollutant levels, including particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

“We’re proud to partner with RAC in bringing Perth to the forefront of modern environmental management with what will be one of the largest and most advanced air sensor networks anywhere in the world,” Clarity Chief Operating Officer Dr Meiling Gao said.

“The RAC Air Health Monitor will combine data from hundreds of solar-powered Clarity sensors with high resolution air quality modelling, making air pollution visible at the neighbourhood level.”

Using an interactive model developed by global engineering firm, Ramboll, the Monitor will blend air quality data from the network of sensors with other sources, including satellites and traffic monitoring services, to visualise and track pollution right across Perth.

RAC is looking to work with a variety of organisations and sectors to help build the network, with more than 140 schools and over half of Perth’s local governments expressing an interest so far.

Over 100 sensors have been installed across Perth to date – making it already the most comprehensive network of its kind in Australia – with a total of more than 200 planned for installation.

“Cars, trucks, and motorbikes continue to be some of the biggest sources of air pollution in urban areas, and are major contributors to the nation’s emissions,” Mr Golsby said.

“Through the RAC Air Health Monitor, we want to reduce vehicle emissions in WA – that includes action to support electric vehicle uptake, tackle congestion, and get more people to drive less, and use public transport, walk and cycle more.”

The RAC Air Health Monitor is expected to launch to the public in the coming months.

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