London air pollution: Google Street View cars to carry monitors

Street view car
Image caption Two specially-adapted Google Street View cars will measure pollution levels in thousands of locations across London

Google Street View cars carrying air quality sensors to map up real-time pollution hotspots are part of a new scheme to help clean up London's air.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said his new initiative was the "world's largest" air quality monitoring network.

He launched the scheme at a school in Southwark where 30% of the pupils have asthma, according to its head.

Charlotte Sharman Primary School's Andrew May welcomed the project but said pollution needed solving "faster".

Sensors on Google Street View cars will take readings about every 30 metres to build a picture of air quality in the capital over the course of a year, to identify areas of toxic air that a network of fixed monitors might miss.

Meanwhile, 100 new fixed sensors will be placed near known pollution hotspots and sensitive locations such as schools and nurseries.

Image caption London Mayor Sadiq Khan chatted with Charlotte Sharman Primary School pupils about how to tackle air pollution

Charlotte Sharman is one of the schools with a sensor.

Head teacher Mr May said: "We are on a very busy road, we're very close to Elephant & Castle, there's been a lot of construction work around here recently.

"The increase in asthma [in our pupils] has been dramatic. [The parents] are increasingly angry and want to do more [to tackle pollution]."

Mr May said the children had been encouraged to walk and cycle and to school, while a barrier of ivy was built to help reduce the effect of toxic particulates from the nearby road.

"I would like it [a reduction in pollution] to be done faster, but we are heading in the right direction," he said.

Image caption Andrew May says 30% of children at his school suffer from asthma

Mr Khan told BBC London: "After today we're going to have the largest and most comprehensive air quality lenses and monitors of any city in the world."

"And it's really important for us to know what's going on - how bad is the nitrogen dioxide, the nitrogen oxide, the particulate matters - so we can then take action to clean up the air."

The project, Breathe London, is a collaboration between the mayor, the Environmental Defense Fund Europe and Google Earth Outreach.

The scheme comes after the government announced its country-wide clean air strategy, while Uber fares are set to rise by 15p per mile to help drivers in the capital buy electric cars.

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