Air pollution is one of the greatest health risks for people living in major cities across the world. But particles and emissions are also an additional threat to the climate. Clean Air Asia in New Delhi has highlighted pollution hotspots where interventions with traffic and human behavior could have a significant effect on the air quality for the children in nearby schools. Local collaboration between urban planners, data collection and analysis, communication agents and the nearby population can find solutions that can be scaled to the rest of the city.
New Delhi is one of the giga cities in the world with the highest air pollution. Most of the inhabitants perceive the air quality to be caused by emissions and road dust. But particles in the air are also an additional threat to the climate. When soot and dust cover the ices and ground of our northern hemisphere, it makes the earth absorb more heat from the sun. This in turn, eventually makes the polar ice melt faster. And since water is darker than ice and therefore absorbs even more heat, the process becomes irreversible.
To highlight this challenge, the UN, through an initiative from Sweden and the US, in 2012 launched the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, today gathering 71 member states.
Clean Air Asia is battling air pollution in many of the world’s largest giga-cities. Their office in New Delhi is verifying the perceived air quality issues with collected data for three polluted hotspots, one of which combines high traffic density with nearby schools.
Traffic interventions is one of the solution areas explored, where urban planning and strategic communication is used to change behaviors.
Another approach is to enhance how air pollution is measured and communicated to the local population and how tha, in turn, affects behavior and exposure.
Clean Air Asia in New Delhi joined forces with Danish Urban planning agency Gehl Architects and Swedish sensor technology company Insplorion to identify opportunities for pilot projects around the hotspot of R.K. Puram.
– Environment departments in cities across the world should join this project to learn from pioneers and to contribute with their expertise and resources.
– Technology companies with relevant solutions should join this project to access the most challenging application examples in the world.
– Healthcare providers and insurance companies should support this project financially to promote healthier cities.