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‘Code the City’ Seeks to Stamp Out Pollution in Aberdeen

Sinead Donnelly


Coding Initiative Aberdeen

The project could potentially set up alerts for people who suffer from health problems such as asthma.

The ‘Code The City’ charity and Clean Air Aberdeen campaign group recently invited members of the public to workshops to build devices that measure pollution.

Dozens of people attended this weekend’s event at Aberdeen University where they followed step-by-step guides to assemble the components required to read temperature and humidity levels outside their homes.

The sensors send readings to a website on a regular basis throughout the day. It is hoped there will eventually be 100 units based across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire adopted by residents, businesses and schools.

Ian Watt, director of Code the City, said: “We’re looking at how to use data and technology to improve society and solve challenges. I was aware there were two groups in Torry and Tillydrone keen to monitor air quality. We could get localised information if we have enough sensors.

“Then we could start to predict what the air quality is going to be like the next day, which will be helpful for people planning to do activities.”

Watt added that if 100 sensors are set up by the end of 2019, 87 million “bits of data” could be collected on an annual basis in Aberdeen. These results could then be accessed by the public, which could also assist public health professionals in identifying trends in the future. He hopes the team will eventually be able to set up alerts for people who suffer from health problems, such as breathing conditions like asthma.


Watt added: “We want to work with schools and have been in touch with the city council. There are 60 schools and we’re hoping to install a sensor in each one. We could then tie it into the curriculum.”

The city has around 20 monitors, which send information into a network of almost 26,000 other connected devices on a global scale. This enables data scientists to track the quality of the air in Aberdeen.

Dr Kate Pangbourne, whose work focuses on travel behaviour, was volunteering at the workshop. She said: “Air pollution is one of the big negative impacts of transport – which is why I’m interested in the event today.

“It’s such a great initiative. Climate change is a huge issue and it can make people feel like there’s nothing they can do. I think this kind of project really helps with that.”

Kevin Mulhern, who led the workshop, hopes the project will attract more funding so that the group can purchase the equipment needed to assemble the plastic devices.

He said: “Air Aberdeen will be advertising the workshops when we get the kits. We will quite happily help anyone who wants to make one.”

Code The City is an initiative that specialises in hack weekends, open data, workshops, and idea generation tools.

sinead photo

Sinead Donnelly


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