DPD using fleet to monitor Dublin air quality

Sarah O’Connor of the Asthma Society of Ireland and James Atkinson, Des Travers both DPD Ireland

Parcel-delivery firm has installed air quality sensors on 22 buildings, 102 vehicles in the capital

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23 September 2021 | 0

DPD Ireland is using smart sensors on buildings and delivery vans to track Dublin’s air quality in real-time as part of its new Air Quality Monitoring programme.

The parcel-delivery company has partnered with Pollutrack to install air quality sensors on 22 buildings including libraries, DPD depots, universities, and schools and 102 vehicles in the capital.

The information will be shared for free with leading universities, local authorities, the Asthma Society of Ireland, and the public, as part of a new sustainability initiative by the company to support awareness around Dublin’s air quality. 

 

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The laser sensors capture Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 levels in real time at breathing level, and transmit the data every 12 seconds via GSM to a database developed by the air quality monitoring company, Pollutrack. PM2.5 is generated in particular by the burning of fossil fuels and can be harmful if it enters the lungs or blood stream, especially for people with asthma. 

DPD Ireland chief executive Des Travers said the company is installing the sensors across Dublin city as an act of faith, using its existing fleet for a social good. 

“If we put the right information in the right hands, we hope to make a positive influence on people’s lives in Dublin,” said Travers. “Our vans are gathering incredible data about Dublin’s air quality, which we will give to universities and city authorities. It is our gift to Dublin, because information inspires action.”

With urban mobility accounting for 40% of all CO2 emissions of road transport and consumers becoming more concerned by air quality, Travers said that transport companies “have a responsibility to act in a sustainable manner and to measure and continually reduce their impact on the environment by innovating and adapting their processes.”

The data produces air quality maps and hotspots – areas which detect higher than average PM2.5 levels most of the time. Anybody can check the quality of their own street by logging onto Air Diag – a portal to see how much PM2.5 is in the air at your doorstep. 

DPD Ireland is working in liaison with Dublin City Council and the Environmental Protection Agency on this project. Dublin City Council has supported the installation of sensors at multiple sites including libraries, a bring centre and a fire station. The project also sees DPD sharing the data with leading Dublin universities DCU, UCD and TCD, each of which hosts a sensor on their campus. DCU researchers at the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics are providing analysis on these sensor datasets to aid in better decision-making by stakeholders.

Scoil Úna Naofa and Oatlands Primary School and St. Andrew’s College Secondary School are also involved and each host a sensor on the school grounds. The Asthma Society of Ireland, Irish Doctors for the Environment, Children’s Health Ireland, Smart Dublin and UCC will also receive data from the project. All project partners will use the data to support studies into the impact of PM levels on health and society, aiming to ultimately improve our understanding of Dublin air quality.  

Sarah O’Connor, CEO of the Asthma Society of Ireland commented: “Air quality is becoming a bigger problem in Ireland, and in particular Dublin. We commend DPD Ireland for taking concrete steps which will help us all understand the causes of air pollution in Dublin city so we can put plans in place to address it”.

This air quality monitoring programme has already been rolled out by DPDgroup in 15 European cities including Paris, Madrid, London, Berlin and Glasgow.

DPD Ireland is also leading the charge towards electric vehicles as part of a €2m fleet decarbonisation programme. The parcel delivery firm has already deployed 30 new electric delivery vehicles in 2021 and it plans to have 250 electric vehicles on Irish roads by 2025. 

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