ESA title


  • ACTIVITYFeasibility Study
  • STATUSCompleted
  • THEMATIC AREAHealth, Infrastructure & Smart Cities, Transport & Logistics

Objectives of the service

The study objectives are to establish whether mass produced, accurate traffic counts from very high-resolution earth observation satellites, combined with traffic emissions and air quality models, can be used to provide data to fulfil our customer’s needs in a cost effective and timely way. 

Traffic has an important impact on air pollution and health, but datasets of this kind are at best only available in advanced western cities, rarely at country scale and too often unavailable in low and middle income countries. 

The proposed system is summarised as follows:

1. To 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 traffic counts, traffic emissions and air pollution predictions, through a web portal and mobile applications, with both one-off purchasing, and subscription payment models available. 

The Feasibility Study includes the development of a proof of concept, aimed at obtaining further customer buy-in and to develop user needs.

Users and their needs

The Users and Customers involved in the Feasibility Study fall within the sectors identified below. 

  • Government – 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. Governments require detailed baseline data for ensuring compliance and designing policy.
  • Air purification system manufacturers – indoor air filtration systems are becoming increasingly prevalent, and sales of hardware are expected to grow rapidly within the next 3-5 years. Outdoor air quality information is critical to ensure optimum performance of indoor equipment.
  • 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;
  • NGOs – as cities become more polluted there 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.

UK, UAE, Serbia, Global.

Service/ system concept

The air quality service allows users to access traffic counts, traffic emissions and air pollution predictions for their city, 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 are only possible through detailed knowledge of emissions sources, with vehicles being one of the most important. The road emissions will be added to all other emissions sources both anthropogenic (industry, power generation, commercial and domestic fuel combustion, other mobile machinery etc) and biogenic to create the final air pollution maps.

Space Added Value

Vehicle locations and speeds are extracted through interrogation of Very High Resolution (VHR) satellite imagery (0.5m resolution) 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 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 very detailed air quality product over large areas, which is unique amongst all potential competitors.

Current Status

The Feasibility Study is complete with users and customers successfully consulted to test the Proof of Concept dataset. System and service architecture has been tested which has produced feedback and recommendations which will be built into an upcoming Demonstration Project and furthermore into deployment of a sustainable operational service through a new Joint Venture company formed between the parties.

Prime Contractor(s)


Status Date

Updated: 27 November 2019