• ACTIVITYDemonstration Project (from FS)
  • STATUSOngoing
  • THEMATIC AREAInfrastructure & Smart Cities, Transport & Logistics, Environment, Wildlife and Natural Resources

Objectives of the service

Image credit: TCarta Ltd, Kings College London


Traffic and subsequent emissions have an important impact on air pollution and health, but datasets of this kind are generally from in-situ stations which are often sparsely distributed. Often cities with a high density of these stations are only in affluent cities, rarely at country scale and too often of a very poor quality or with too coarse data resolution to inform governing or planning entities.

The proposed system is summarised as follows:

1. To effectively and reliably count vehicles using very high-resolution satellite imagery;

2. To create vehicle emissions road-by-road and combining these with other emissions, to predict high resolution air quality concentrations in any city;

3. To develop an air quality service that allows users to access, air quality pollutant concentrations at:

    • Annual means,
    • NowCast’s involving forecasted pollutant concentrations 48hrs in advance
    • Scenarios of very specific changes in current environment such as replacing all buses with electric or hybrid busy services throughout a city or congested zone.

Through a web portal and mobile applications, with both one-off purchasing, and subscription payment models available.

The Demonstration Project includes the development of a profitable, operational and repeatable workflow aimed at obtaining further customer buy-in.


Users and their needs

The Users and Customers involved in the Demonstration Project fall within the sectors identified below:

  • Government/Local Authority – air quality is recognized as a major global health concern gaining national and international media coverage on a regular basis, and increasing knowledge is vital for informed policy decision making. Governance authorities require detailed and accurate baseline data for ensuring compliance and policy driving.
  • Engineering Consultants/Transport planners – require air quality data for major infrastructure developments to ensure that they don’t exacerbate existing air pollution issues, including Traffic modelling which will require our inputs to inform urban planning;
  • Health Agencies - require air quality data for informing commercial policies, workplace sustainability and duty of care to employee health.
  • NGOs – as cities become more polluted there is significant negative impact on human health (particularly in emerging economies). High quality modelled air quality data is vital to inform policy creation and decision making.

Service/ system concept

The air quality service allows users to access traffic counts, traffic emissions and air pollution predictions for their city or locations, through a web portal and mobile applications, with both one-off purchasing, and subscription payment models available.

Our service offers on-demand world-wide air quality modelling information at a very high level of detail (20 metre resolution). Spatial modelling of this kind is only possible through detailed knowledge of emissions sources, with vehicles being one of the most important. The satellite traffic detection and attribution will act as the road specific pollutant concentrations given that traffic is the most significant contributor and will be added to all other emissions sources including rural, agriculture biomass, air, rail, ships, domestic gas and industrial gas, oil, coal and biogenic to create the final air pollution coverage.

Image credit: TCarta Ltd, Kings College London


Space Added Value

Vehicle locations and speeds are extracted through interrogation of Very High Resolution (VHR) satellite imagery providing the following advantages to air quality modelling:

  • Snapshots of large areas at a given point in time, rather than street-by-street based vehicle counts which are often collected over a number of years;
  • Input to air quality models that is captured remotely (very useful in hard to access locations or where no ground-based data exists);
  • Access to a satellite image specifically collected or very large archive of historical imagery, allowing trends and patterns to be established in vehicle volumes;

Utilising Very High-Resolution imagery, means extracting a very high level of detail and providing a dense air quality product over large areas, which is unique amongst all potential competitors.

Current Status

The Demonstration Project is in progress with successful detection in the majority of cities but with development required for full coverage in more challenging city environments. Users and customers have been consulted for requirements and the product designed in line with their needs. System and service architecture is in development with a portal to be ready for deployment into a sustainable operational service through a new Joint Venture company soon to be formed between the parties.


Status Date

Updated: 24 February 2020 - Created: 27 November 2019