EarthSense has deployed a network of Zephyr® air quality sensors in Oxfordshire, the UK’s first potential zero emission zone. The data gathered will be piloted with the EarthSense air quality model, MappAir®, as part of the Network Emissions/Vehicle Flow Management Adjustment (NEVFMA) initiative funded by Highways England through Innovate UK and headed by winners of the project, Aimsun and partners Oxfordshire County Council and Siemens Mobility.
The NEVFMA (www.NEVFMA.com) project was announced by Innovate UK and Highways England in July 2019 to investigate the impact of traffic management strategies on air quality on the strategic road network and A roads.
The project sees EarthSense Zephyr® air quality measurements and MappAir® modelling integrated with Aimsun’s traffic modelling to identify effective traffic management strategies to improve traffic flow and emissions. The solution will balance the requirements of the strategic road network, managed by Highways England, and the local road network managed by Oxfordshire County Council.
Other partners involved in the project include Siemens Mobility, which is integrating the Zephyr® sensors into roadside infrastructure and optimising traffic management systems by incorporating enhanced air quality information, and Oxfordshire County Council who has provided access to their street lighting infrastructure, data and expertise and will continue to provide key inputs on local strategies until December 2020.
In total, 18 Zephyr® air quality sensors have been deployed around the county: 17 static sensors mounted to lampposts and traffic signals on main routes into the city, ring roads and background urban sites and one mobile sensor fitted to an electric car provided by Oxfordshire County Council. The mobile sensor provides daily coverage for large, unaccounted for areas of the city and uncovers links between road emissions and roadside air quality.
The Zephyr® air quality sensors will provide measurements collected from harmful gas concentrations including nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particulates (PM2.5), ozone (O3) and nitric oxide (NO) in real time for the city.
EarthSense Managing Director, Tom Hall comments: “Integrating Zephyr® sensor data and MappAir® models with external systems means we are able to provide validated, high accuracy air quality information to inform a variety of mitigations and strategies to reduce air pollution in problem areas. Our air quality sensors are able to accurately detect small changes in air pollution. These measurements are supplemented by MappAir® to provide air quality data where sensors cannot be placed. This data is integrated with Aimsun’s traffic modelling to help identify the most efficient traffic flow strategies.”
Tom continues, “Working with Aimsun and Oxfordshire County Council’s iHub team to investigate how traffic management and control systems can be used to reduce emissions in the Oxford area enables us to trial both the air quality predictions from MappAir® and the Aimsun model. We hope that this will enable Oxfordshire County Council’s ambition to have the world’s first zero emission zone to be realised. It should also prove the scalability of this project’s approach.”
Project Manager at Aimsun, Alastair Kitson, comments: “What makes this project unique is that the traffic modelling feeds dynamically into the air quality model; despite being interlinked, traffic modelling and air quality are often considered independently and at arms‘ length from final project outcomes. In NEVFMA, we are seeking to continually link air dispersal model predictions with Aimsun Live traffic model predictions over the next rolling hour – this provides a whole new horizon of data for decision makers.”
Alastair continues: “An integrated approach like this allows analysis of response plans to predict air quality, informing localised impact on emission hotspots, reducing peaks in pollutants, and working towards lowering annual averages.”
As a result of the project, a number of traffic-based pollution lowering initiatives will be simulated, such as the closure of roads for heavy goods vehicles, changes in lane directions to improve traffic flow and increased timings on green lights for less acceleration emissions.
Llewelyn Morgan, Head of Oxfordshire County Council iHub ‘We are always trying to explore how we improve and manage Air Quality, the NEVFMA project will provide unique insight into the potential of using real time air quality data to influence how we plan and actively manage our highways network.’