Air Quality Data Platform in Westminster

Aligned with the Fairer Westminster Strategy, the council is committed to sharing accessible and transparent data to all residents and visitors of Westminster. In July 2023, the Westminster Air Quality Data Platform was launched, illustrating the councils’ efforts to provide crucial information for informed decision-making.

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Air pollution is a significant environmental threat to public health. There are a number of highly accurate automatic monitoring stations, air quality sensors and an extensive network of diffusion tubes around Westminster. Aligned with the Fairer Westminster Strategy, the council is committed to sharing accessible and transparent data to all residents and visitors of Westminster. In July 2023, the Westminster Air Quality Data Platform was launched, illustrating the councils’ efforts to provide crucial information for informed decision-making. The data will not only help shape our policies and interventions to reduce pollution in Westminster, but it also helps communities understand what pollution is like where they live or work. The data can empower communities to proactively reduce their exposure to poor air quality. 

The challenge

Air pollution is a global urban problem, affecting individuals’ health and quality of life. This issue is particularly pronounced in Westminster where the context of air pollution underscores its urgency.  Situated in Central London, Westminster City Council is home to some of the busiest streets in London including Oxford Street, Marylebone Road and the Strand. The air quality levels often exceed WHO guidelines which highlight the need for more action in reducing air pollution.

Local authorities play a pivotal role in improving air quality for residents. One method Westminster City Council uses to improve air quality, is to enhance awareness about levels of air pollution in the local area. Accessible and transparent data empowers communities to comprehend local air pollution conditions, prompting them to make informed changes to reduce emissions and exposure. 

Unfortunately, a significant barrier arises as residents often find air quality datasets challenging to decipher due to complex formats and technical jargon. The complexity acts as a disincentive, hindering the effective utilisation of these valuable datasets for informed decision making and community action. Efforts to simplify and streamline data presentation can bridge this gap, fostering greater engagement and understanding among residents. 

The solution

In July 2023, Westminster City Council launched a new air quality data platform, showcasing the results of air quality monitoring in Westminster. The platform offers accurate, up-to-date, and accessible information on air quality throughout the borough. The platform enables users to not only view ongoing monitoring activities in the area but also explore longer-term trends, providing insights into how pollution has evolved over time in Westminster. The monitoring network not only informs but empowers our communities by providing insights into the local pollution landscape. 

Future planned features and functions of the platform will further enable the development of products and services to aid in reducing air pollution and/or reducing citizen exposure to poor air pollution. 

The impact

For Westminster City Council, the air quality data platform has increased awareness of the value of open data. A key achievement is Westminster City Council’s consolidation of diverse data into a centralised hub accessible to residents. This user-friendly approach allows individuals to directly access desired air quality information in their chosen Westminster area. This immediately eliminates the time-consuming process of going through multiple sources on the internet and merging data sources. The data being collated into a single platform on the council’s website immediately enhances residents experience finding air quality data. Ultimately, streamlined presentation of good data that is easily interpretable significantly enhances its value, fostering more effective and informed decision-making process. 

For the public, the impact is the raised awareness on the air quality levels in Westminster and the health impacts. A notable feature in the air quality data platform is the health and deprivation data. In a commitment to transparency, the air quality data platform shines light on environmental inequalities across Westminster, revealing that some residents face very different and more challenging circumstances to their neighbours. Research has demonstrated that those living in more deprived areas are exposed to higher concentrations of air pollution, often because homes of these groups are situated next to roads with higher concentrations of emissions. This emphasises the need for targeted interventions to address environmental disparities and enhance the overall well-being of affected communities. 

How is this new approach being sustained?

The council has a commitment to use resident feedback to continuously improve the air quality data platform. Through the council’s resident research panel, the team conducts user research with a diverse group of residents to determine what residents would like to see next. A series of focus groups with residents were held to capture resident discussion and provide a space where residents from all parts of the borough can share ideas. During the user research, demos of the platform were performed to help residents locate the air quality near their homes. For more in depth discussions, 1:1 interviews were carried out as follow ups to the focus group. 

From the user research, the Council was able to retrieve useful feedback from residents. A common suggestion that residents had, was to see a quick overview page covering air quality in their area. Through this direct feedback, the Council created an ‘air quality in your area’ page which quickly went live after the interviews were carried out. This is a key example where improvements to the page came directly from Westminster residents. 

To continuously engage residents, the Council is following up with a longitudinal study with five residents, to detect how resident use the platform overtime. This would allow the council to understand user patterns and determine what improvements could be made to enhance the experience on the platform. 

Lessons learnt

  • Community engagement and speaking to local groups to understand what they need and what they want is key to producing a useful and sustainable data tool.
  • Important for residents to have accessible and transparent data.


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