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UK develops technology to study traffic impact during London Olympics

1 May 2012

CityScan technology

Researchers from the University of Leicester have developed a new technology called CityScan, to measure the impact of additional traffic during the London Olympics.

University researchers developed the technology to measure the impact of additional traffic during the games on pollution and also to improve traffic management issues during the Games.

CityScan gathers scattered sunlight throughout the city to scan and read the quality of air over every point of the city - including playgrounds, buildings and individual roads. The technology can also give details about the days and times when pollution levels are at peak levels.

Roland Leigh, the University of Leicester's earth observation science group team leader, said traditional sensors take in a single point measurement, giving a very accurate measurement for a specific area.

"Between two or three CityScan instruments, we can map out a complete urban area and tell you where the nitrogen dioxide is in that space," Leigh added.

"CityScan makes the link between emissions and poor air quality downwind, enabling better management of the respiratory health of sensitive individuals."

The sensors of the new technology will be placed at three locations, one on a 30-storey building in North Kensington, the second on a 14-storey building in Chelsea in west central London, plus a third location which is yet to be decided.

Sensors will help detail the amount of nitrogen dioxide produced from traffic emissions and inform the people to avoid such places for health benefits. The 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games are expected to draw 11 million visitors from across the world to the UK's capital for seven weeks, with up to three million extra car journeys anticipated on the busiest days.

Scientists are testing the technology and hope to help the councils all around the UK improve environmental planning and traffic management.

Image: CityScan will measure impact of the additional traffic on pollution during the London Olympics. Photo: University of Leicester.