Pigeons wearing backpacks are monitoring air pollution in London

A flock of pigeons complete with sensor-carrying lightweight backpacks are helping consumers track air pollution in London.

The birds have technology on-board to not only monitor air quality, but are also reporting on it live by tweeting what they find in the skies above the capital.

Users can also tweet the birds giving their location and receive a report back on the air quality in that area.

The three day scheme has been created by Plume Labs, a technology firm that specialises in helping people track and reduce exposure to air pollution, has created pigeonairpatrol.com where London residents can view a live map.

Romain Lacombe, the CEO at Plume Labs said: “Air pollution is a huge environmental health issue, killing 10,000 people every year in London alone. Putting air sensors on the back of pigeons goes beyond raising awareness of this problem and helps Londoners understand the impact of pollution in an accessible, tangible and immediate way.”

Lacombe added that a device for humans to wear that monitors air quality was also being planned.


“DigitasLBi is also helping us to recruit beta testers who will be the first to access our devices, to build a collaborative, human-powered air quality monitoring network across London,” he said.

Twitter is also involved in this aspect of the scheme, and their head of creative agency development in the UK, Helen Lawrence, said: “Twitter brings you closer to what matters to you the most, in real time.

“Over the last 10 years Twitter has been used in ways that we would never have imagined – rivers that Tweet when the water level rises, sharks that Tweet when they’re swimming near shore and now pigeons that Tweet live pollution information. Real time information, direct to your mobile is hugely useful, but add pigeons into that mix and you’ve got something really powerful.”


Most Read in Business

World Markets