Mapping for Change

The Solent Air Watch team has been using maps to raise awareness of air pollution in Southampton. It’s the season for outdoor events and our first stall was at Environmental Rock at the end of May, sharing the space with other organisations working on clean air issues such as Friends of the Earth and the Southampton Cycling Campaign. We talked to festival goers about air pollution in Southampton and tried out a short survey, but it got us thinking – what is the best way of engaging people on the topic of dirty air?

Maps are great tools for enabling people to understand and transform their cities. Southampton’s very own Ordnance Survey has OS Greenspace, a comprehensive catalogue of green spaces across the UK; and Mapping for Change has itself run a project to map community air quality in London.

We want to create an online air quality map, so we thought, why not use a real one at events and ask people to contribute to it? And so our mapping project was born: one large printed map of Southampton, a load of sticky dots and post-it notes, and over 100 conversations later, we have this:

The green dots are where people think that there is an air pollution problem – mostly at roadside locations it seems. There are also a few tiny hearts dotted around – they are where people feel that the air is clean, such as Southampton Common and other green spaces. And the post-it notes are everyone’s comments and ideas!

We set up stalls at Let’s Ride Southampton in East Park and on Clean Air Day in Guildhall Square and asked people to let us know their thoughts on air quality:

  • Where do you think air quality is poor in Southampton?
  • Why do you think there is air pollution in those neighbourhoods?
  • What kinds of solutions could there be for cleaner air?

Some of the comments on poor air quality were:

And here are some of the ideas for tackling air pollution:

Cycling, park & ride, and cheaper bus journeys feature quite prominently.

We also asked children to draw us  pictures of their ideas and here is a great example! Has anyone built this machine? 🙂

What’s next?
We are developing the online map to capture all these data points and comments, and also to enable more people to contribute their ideas. Everyone’s ideas about pollution hotspots will also help us to decide where we should start installing ‘Sniffy’ sensors to monitor air quality.

We’re also thrilled that loads of people signed up to volunteer on the project – if you’d like to do the same, please fill out our short contact form. We’re looking for people to help out with all aspects of the project from being a clean air champion or helping out with social media, to learning new skills at our sensor building workshops and helping others to develop technical skills. More details on how you can get involved are available here.

A big thank you to everyone who helped make it happen!


Mapping air quality in Southampton – help needed!

We want to create an air quality map for Southampton – not just pollution hotspots but also ideas for cleaner air – can you help us?

We’re starting to collect ideas and data, and we’ve got a great opportunity to speak to people at upcoming events. So the Solent Air Watch team is looking for four enthusiastic helpers for our stalls:

  • at Let’s Ride Southampton, on Sunday 17th June 2018, in East Park
  • on Clean Air Day, on Thursday 21st June 2018, in Guildhall Square

We will be talking to members of the public about air pollution and creating a crowdsourced map of the potential sources and solutions to dirty air.

What are we doing to improve air quality?
Solent Air Watch is a citizen science project which will measure and map levels of pollution in Southampton. We will run workshops to build air pollution monitors (called ‘Sniffy’) as well as community events to talk about local pollution issues and develop neighbourhood action plans. By working closely with local communities we can find out the best way to tackle air pollution in different areas across the city, by understanding the barriers to change and proposing innovative solutions.

What would I gain by helping?
By volunteering with us you’ll be helping a great cause to clean up the air in Southampton, promote sustainable development as well as gain experience in public events. All of our events are light hearted and fun – you’ll have the chance to meet new and interesting people. You’ll receive an introduction to how we’re going to tackle air pollution using citizen science and the sustainable development sides of the Solent Air Watch project – so don’t worry if you’re new to the idea! Enthusiasm and the desire to do something new and positive is all you need.

How do I sign up?
If you have any questions please get in touch via our contact page!





National Clean Air Day – LIVE in West Quay!

The 15th of June 2017 marked the UK’s first National Clean Air Day. On the day, a number of events took place across Southampton. The aim was to promote air quality and bring awareness to air pollution, which is mostly invisible. Southampton City Council is one of six national focus cities supporting National Clean Air Day and Solent Air Watch was offered to join the event at the Westquay shopping centre. An invitation we were more than happy to follow!

As Solent Air Watch’s very first public event, we were very excited to share our Sniffy monitor with the community. At our stall in the shopping centre, we did a demonstration of our sensors, using two Sniffies to monitor the air quality while displaying live data to a large screen as two graphs. One Sniffy sensor was used to measure the natural air quality in the shopping centre. The second sensor was exposed to particles in the air, such as dust, illustrating how our monitors react to particles in the air which make up one type of air pollution outside. As soon as particles were detected, the demonstration graph on screen jumped to a visibly higher level, illustrating the air monitor’s concept of detecting relative air quality differences.

Solent Air Watch team - Daily Echo article News

Solent Air Watch in the news!

Today, the Daily Echo published a news article about Solent Air Watch and the Sniffy air monitor. We are thrilled to see that our work is starting to gain traction in the media. We are even more excited that individuals are coming forward, reaching out to us to inquire about citizen science, as well as volunteering opportunities. Solent Air Watch would be nothing without the support of the local community, so if you haven’t already – feel free to get in touch. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

The mentioned “build you own Sniffy” workshops will start in September when our weekly meetings resume.

The full Daily Echo article, along with some great pictures of our team can be found here.

Air Watch Josh presenting News

Air Watch at the Research and Innovation Conference

We had an awesome first event, demonstrating five ‘Sniffy’ sensors at the Research and Innovation Conference, hosted by Solent University in Southampton. It was the first public event for Air Watch, where our citizen science idea and the first set of sensors were presented to an audience of students and academics. Putting all our hard work to a first test, the presented concept was engaging and simple – we used incense cones in the middle of a table to show how the sensors detect particular matter in the smoke and displayed the live data on the wall. Even though the audience was small, we had very good feedback and were able to connect with more people in different fields to increase awareness about the project. Stay tuned for further events and opportunities to see Sniffy in action!

Sniffy sensors in action - Solent University News

Sniffy has come to life

Today, our air quality monitor ‘Sniffy’ took its first breath…. as we held ours for a few seconds.

After months of development time, ‘Sniffy’ has finally come to life. Why is this big news? Well, for us it’s huge – with Sniffy we developed a new fully open-source air quality monitor. Open-source means, that we will make the drawings and code publically available to everyone. This helps reduce the cost and allows more people to work with us to develop the project which wouldn’t be commercially possible.

Sniffy is the tool to help make Air Watch a clean air revolution.

Sniffy and Air Watch were built on one idea – we believe that everyone has the right to know how good the quality of the air they breathe is. In order to do this, an affordable monitoring device was needed that can be easily used by anyone. ‘Sniffy’ is the tool to help make Air Watch a clean air revolution. With ‘Sniffy’, we can build a dense air monitoring network across Southampton to create an air pollution map across the city and identify sources of pollution. But this is nothing without support from individuals, as we are fully run by volunteers, so please get involved by going over to our sign up page to register your interest to host a sensor or help us with development. We can’t wait to hear from you.