Pigeons wearing backpacks with air quality sensors are now flying around London.
Half a dozen racing pigeons have been released into the capital with GPS devices and a 35g sensor to measure levels of nitrogen dioxide being produced in the city. The pigeons took off from their Brick Lane base on Monday. The birds are then, using the power of the internet, tweeting those who ask for a reading.
Air pollution in London is blamed for almost 9,500 deaths a year, and in one week at the start of 2016 parts of the city breached EU pollution limits. The pigeons are being used as a way to raise awareness of the levels of air pollution in London and will be flying around the capital and tweeting for three days.
The project comes from Pierre Duquesnoy, a marketing director from DigitasLBI, who won a London Design Festival competition with the idea June 2015. “It is a scandal. It is a health and environmental scandal for humans – and pigeons. We’re making the invisible visible,” Duquesnoy told.
Since the pigeons took to the skies on Monday they have provided readings across a number of central London areas. The data warned there was moderate air pollution in central London with high levels in Westminster. Levels are compared to measurements from the World Health Organisation to provide context. The pigeons aren’t the only birds being tested as a solution to technological issues in London.
Senior officials from the Metropolitan Police have said they are investigating the possibility of using eagles to disable rouge drones that are flying over public events. Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has said his force is considering using the same training technique developed by Dutch police.