A flock of pigeons are being fitted with lightweight pollution monitoring backpacks. Report by Jessica Wakefield.
Watch the video and answer the questions below.
1 When did pigeons use to carry vital messages?
2 Why can’t the company use drones?
3 What part of the day is the company particularly interested in?
4 How high do pigeons fly?
5 How many people die in London as a result of air pollution?
6 How can you find the pollution levels in the place where you are?
Some consider them filthy vermin likening them to flying rats but could pigeons offer the chance of cleaner living?
Okay, pull the wing out. Just lift it a couple of seconds up.
A flock of the birds are being fitted with lightweight pollution monitoring backpacks, a modern version of paper letters being tied to them.
Many years ago, in the First and Second World Wars, pigeons used to carry vital messages and saving many lives and when the company approached me, said would we do this, they showed me this very good gadget on the back of the pigeons and I thought we could link the two together once again, our little feathered friends, the athletes of the sky, are providing a very good service.
We already have fixed positioned air-pollution monitors but could the birds soaring through the skies offer a new way to assess air quality?
You know, you're asking why, why pigeons I… we could’ve… people say, oh you could have used drones but actually you can’t fly drones over London and because we are particularly interested in rush hour and obviously there's a lot of traffic and you can't really circulate quite easily, so we’re like how can we go across the city and uncover as much pollution data as possible and that's when we thought about pigeons. They fly pretty low, around a hundred feet high, so the data we get is quite relevant for the people in the street as well.
Latest research estimates that air pollution causes 9,400 premature deaths a year in London.
It’s monitoring NO2 and ozone. We track two gases that impact your health. Diesel, for instance, and traffic would create NO2. Ozone comes from NO2 being transformed by photochemistry. This is really complicated science but what we know is that these are things that are bad for your health, and so if you can track how this pollution changes, broadly speaking you understand better how environment impacts our health.
And you can find out local pollution levels by tweeting @pigeonair along with the place you're in London, and they'll tweet you back telling you about the air that you're breathing in. The next evolution will be mini-monitors worn by humans as we try to get a clearer picture of London's invisible killer.