LONDON — A team of pigeons has begun taking to the skies with state-of-the-art technology designed to measure air pollution in the English capital.
The Pigeon Air Patrol superbirds are each strapped with miniature backpacks complete with 25-gram sensors, measuring nitrogen dioxide levels, ozone, and other volatile compounds in the air.
The squadron is made up of ten pigeons. The program has been implemented to offer people on the ground the most up-to-date information on the air they're breathing in. To access the stats, users need only tweet @PigeonAir to find out. The pigeons then respond with current readings, with levels ranging from moderate to extreme.
This is the latest campaign to combat air pollution by technology company, Plume Labs. The French company is also planning to mobilize 100 Londoners to carry backpacks with sensors for on-the-ground pollution monitoring.
Estimates indicate close to 9500 people die in London every year as a result of long-term exposure to air pollution. Around the world, the number of premature deaths caused by air pollution is nearly 7 million people, annually.
Plume Labs has exceeded its crowdfunding goal of raising £10,000 to be able to fund plans for the live air map of London, with information generated by sensors on human patrollers.
The Pigeon Air Patrol is only being employed for a 3-day test study, after which the birds will retire back to the care of their owner.