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Why the Zephyr® Air Quality Monitor is Expanding into the Intelligent Transport Systems Market

A Busy Few Months on the Road

It’s been a busy few months for us recently. We’ve exhibited at a number of exhibitions and conferences including the MOVE Conference, Northern Air Quality News Conference and we also made our way to Birmingham to attend Traffex with our partner Yunex Traffic.

It’s become clear to us that the Zephyr® has gained popularity within the Intelligent Transport Systems and mobility markets from its presence at a number of our customers and partners exhibition stands, particularly at Traffex where we saw the monitor being exhibited by Yunex Traffic, Swarco, Q-Free, SRL and WJ!

So why is the Zephyr® becoming a recognised air quality monitor amongst ITS professionals?

A Compact & Mobile Monitor

zephyr air quality monitor installed on to lighting pole

The Zephyr® has been purposely designed as a small form, compact and lightweight indicative air quality monitor. Its sleek and minimal design means that once units have been installed, they sit discreetly on street furniture whilst taking air quality measurements and provide no interruptions or distractions to motorists or pedestrians. Zephyr® monitors can be quickly and easily installed on to traffic lights and lighting columns, making complete pollution monitoring networks across cities and towns an achievable task.

To ensure a view of air quality exposure around cities, ITS professionals have the option to use Zephyrs as mobile monitoring tools with its GPS capabilities. By installing units on to bicycles or inside backpacks, pollution measurements can be plotted on routing apps like Google maps to provide insights into concentrations throughout the journey. Pollution data can be used for learning when and where the likes of pedestrians, cyclists and pupils are affected by transport emissions.

We also developed the ZephyrS for use by businesses across the ITS market - a smaller version of the original Zephyr® that is distributed by our partner Yunex Traffic to UK local authorities. Units are without an internal battery and hardwired to traffic lights and transmit live measurements to Yunex’s Stratos Traffic Management system. Air quality data integrated directly into the system provides insight into the correlation between transport and air quality for a whole town or city.

Real Time & Historic Measurements for Trend Analysis

zephyr air pollution monitor deployed on traffic lights

Zephyrs provide measurements for a wide variety of air pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide (NO2), nitric oxide (NO), ozone (O3) and particulate matter (PM1, PM2.5, PM10) in real time, which are also stored as historic data for analysing at a later date. Live Zephyr® measurements allow transport professionals to have a consistent overview of air quality levels throughout road networks where units are deployed. During periods of high pollution, Zephyrs can provide alerts about hotspot locations which notify the likes of traffic systems, models, and transport professionals, allowing them to quickly respond by implementing mitigation strategies like rerouting traffic around a city by providing alternative routes via variable messaging signs (VMS).

Using historic air quality data taken from a monitoring network, Zephyrs can provide ITS companies with insight into air quality trends over specific time periods that can be used for various use cases, such as investigating areas that regularly experience traffic build up and subsequent pollution spikes. With this data, businesses can introduce strategies such as timed road closures or trial new road layouts that reduce emissions and minimise its impact on those at nearby locations, such as next to schools or offices.

Integrated Air Quality Data via API

Measured air quality data from the Zephyr® can be accessed via our web app, MyAir® or integrated with a third-party system via an API. Integrating Zephyr® air quality data into ITS applications can provide a connected IoT system for viewing air quality data within one platform, making it simple to analyse pollution measurements alongside other datasets. This can be used to correlate vehicle emissions with congestion and help to understand the impact of new highways and infrastructure on human and environmental health.

Associating the links between traffic and air quality means integrated data can be used for more informed decision-making processes to manage congestion and subsequent emissions. This might be identifying how an increase in vehicle numbers within a car park affects individuals’ personal exposure or investigating how an increase of electric vehicles within a city would have an impact on its air quality.

Integrated Data for Usable Insights

Zephyr® data has the capability to answer the question of ‘what if?’, which is important for testing new strategies and driving change. It’s one thing to measure air quality, but it’s another thing to be able to gather insights which help to develop strategic approaches for tackling transport and pollution related challenges.

zephyrS pollution monitor installed on to street furniture

For instance, our partner Yunex Traffic integrate measurements from ZephyrS units that have been installed on to traffic lights into its Stratos Traffic Management system as part of its environmental module. As a result, the system delivers air quality information alongside traffic data, providing answers about ideal responses for managing traffic and reducing emissions. This might be using the system to find out that re-prioritising traffic signal timings would be best for improving vehicle flow and minimising idling vehicles in city centres or using the data to understand the impact of temporary roadworks and diversions to see whether such interventions are moving air pollution elsewhere.

Combine Measured Data with Modelled MappAir® Data

myair web application

Used in conjunction with our MappAir® model, ITS companies receive richer datasets that provide granular air quality data which can be used to see how transport emissions are predicted to disperse across the wider area over a 3-day period. Such insights help to identify times and locations at which pollution rises and scatters, which enable future decisions to reduce pollution dispersion at busy road junctions and lower its impact on other motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. Real time Zephyr® measurements can also be used to identify the success of such interventions.

We saw our partners Aimsun do something similar as part of the award-winning project NEVFMA, for which they used MappAir® and Zephyr® data integrated with its traffic management system, Aimsun Live to predict traffic and air quality challenges in the road network. With combined datasets, Aimsun produced a range of response plans to activity within road networks that delivered information about its congestion and air quality related impacts, enabling ITS managers to identify the most effective type of response and minimise congestion and subsequent emissions.

Multiple Power Options & Communication Capabilities

solar powered Zephyr installed on to lighting column

With multiple power options available for the Zephyr® including solar panel, battery, and hardwiring, it allows ITS companies to decide on the option that is most suitable for their application. For instance, an ITS company might choose to use a Zephyr® network with a high number of installation points and with that may come operational challenges, such as power availability. Through the various power options available with the Zephyr®, units can be installed almost anywhere. Solar panels can be used to power Zephyrs at areas where external power is not available and hardwired units can be used at locations with low sunlight exposure. At areas with low sunlight and no external power, battery powered units can be installed.

Zephyrs also boast a number of communication capabilities. 4G and 5G connections, LTE-Cat M1 and NB-IoT, provides global deployment capabilities, meaning ITS companies across the world can implement air pollution monitoring networks as part of city-wide IoT initiatives. This provides a basis for learning about the environment, transport, infrastructure, and how these factors have a direct consequence on emissions, air quality and human exposure.

The addition RS232 and RS485 ports on Zephyr® monitors allow ITS professionals to attach third party devices on to units, such as weather stations, for creating an environmental hub and collating data on external elements such as meteorological conditions, wind speed and direction, and rain fall. Through collating these insights, they can understand how other environmental factors impact emissions and air quality and find ways to minimise any negative outcomes.

The Zephyr® & the ITS Market

It’s clear to see that the Zephyr® has some valuable features for ITS companies that are interested in understanding transport emissions, minimising congestion, and discovering various ways that they can reduce the impact of transport on air quality, the environment and public health.

We’re always looking to support ITS focussed projects that use air quality data for understanding and improving air quality, and it’s fascinating to see some of the innovative ways that measurements are and can be used!

If you’re interested in finding out more about the Zephyr®, head to our website to view our case studies or get in touch!

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