Strategies for cleaner and healthier air in urban environments

May 15, 2023
Sustainable mobility and air quality monitoring, two tools for tackling air pollution in cities

Current levels of air pollution in cities, especially in Western countries, bear little resemblance to the situation a few decades ago. For example, episodes such as the notorious “Great London Fog” in December 1952, which is estimated to have caused tens of thousands of deaths, have been left behind.

The adoption of increasingly restrictive legislation and the modernisation of the car fleet have been key to breathing cleaner air. However, it is still insufficient. Air pollution in cities continues to be a problem that affects people’s well-being and the environment.

What’s the next step? Redesigning the city to make it more comfortable, to commit to concepts such as the 15-minute city reducing the use of private vehicles and encouraging the use of public transport. And of course, we must monitor air quality, because we can only defeat this invisible enemy by looking it in the face.

 

How to improve air quality in cities?

A healthier environment is one of the objectives pursued by government authorities, Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and urban mobility managers when defining their strategies.

How can this objective be achieved? How can we improve the quality of life and reduce air pollution in urban environments?

Developing, among other options, policies that favour:

  • Redesigning the city by promoting sustainable mobility.
  • Compliance with environmental requirements such as those set-out, for example, in European directives.
  • Citizen participation to create more liveable cities.
  • The implementation of technologies to measure air pollution in cities.

How can these strategies be put into practice?

 

Technology to make air pollution visible in cities

Air pollution in cities changes from one point to another as a result of traffic density or weather conditions.

Thus, the best way to get a picture of the air quality situation at a given point and time is to deploy a dense network of monitoring stations that continuously transmit information. This system is intended to monitor the levels of pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, ozone and particulate matter.

The Kunak AIR solution (consisting of the Kunak AIR stations Kunak AIR Pro and Kunak AIR Lite stations and the Kunak AIR Cloud air quality software) is designed to meet this need, positioning itself in the international market as one of the most reliable and accurate alternatives in the international market.

This type of technology also complements the reference monitoring stations used to verify environmental laws, thus reinforcing this regulatory requirement.

 

The 15-minute city: when everything you need is just a few steps away

This concept is based on a person’s daily commute being within this timeframe (where possible). In this way, cycling or walking to the destination is encouraged, a practice that has a positive impact on air quality.

The following video is a perfect representation of the idea.

 

 

Sustainable mobility, looking for alternatives to the private car

Emissions from cars are a major contributor to air pollution in urban environments.

It is, therefore, necessary to promote alternatives that make the use of private vehicles less attractive.

How should we make people aware of this need? Showing, for example, how air quality improves when public transport is used can be useful.

An example of the capacity of data to transmit positive messages is the measurement system that Kunak has deployed at stops, catenary posts and auxiliary installations of the Granada Metro and the Trambahía, the metropolitan railway that connects to the Bay of Cadiz. Another example is the city of Albacete, which is committed to public bicycle-sharing systems.

 

Fighting air pollution in cities with sustainable mobility and air quality monitoring solutions

 

Low Emission Zones (LEZs): addressing climate change and air pollution in cities

This tool aims for all municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants and those with more than 20,000 inhabitants that exceed the pollution limit values to define a zone that restricts the free access of the most polluting vehicles to urban centres.

This is a measure in which dozens of cities are currently immersed and which entails the need for detailed air quality monitoring, to which Kunak, with its solutions, is providing the answer.

 

Conclusion

The people responsible for smart city projects, urban mobility and CIOs have a tough task ahead of them to turn today’s cities into spaces where people want to live. Improving air quality is fundamental to achieving this goal.

At Kunak, we are convinced that our solutions, capable of providing accurate, real-time data on air pollution in cities, can be a tool to support better decision-making to create healthy cities.

Contact us if you want to implement effective measures and improve the well-being of citizens.

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