Clean air is one of the main challenges faced by our urban areas in the 21st century. The level of premature death caused by air pollution on a global scale means policy action on this matter is urgent
Car traffic, still dominated by combustion engines, remains one of the main contributors to air pollution and so dealing with it is a key part of the solution to achieving clean air. Monitoring traffic is therefore an important element in any policy action on clean air initiatives.
Deploying Telraam devices fulfils several essential roles in air quality monitoring activities:
It is important to measure air quality data to understand the issues we face, and where they are at their worst. However, while maps of air quality might highlight the link between poor air quality and roads and high traffic levels, on their own they do not distinguish between which interventions are having an impact. Also, air quality monitoring equipment is quite expensive, so air quality data is unavailable in most locations.
If the objective is to reduce car journeys, then you need to know how many cars are actually using the road, and when. You also need to assess which actions to reduce this are effective, such as legal speed restrictions, traffic calming, modal filters, behavioural messaging, road pricing, etc. Finally, you can match these interventions to the quality of the air that results.
It is important to track interventions designed to change traffic volume, not just the location of the intervention, but the surrounding streets as well. Like air movement, it is important to ensure traffic is not just reduced at a particular location through displacement.
It is important to have traffic counts before, during and after, in order to ensure that interventions and outcomes can be accurately attributed, and further enhancements (or corrections) can be carried out. Continuous measurement allows for more accurate solutions that are improved through feedback loops and local experience.
In order to get feedback and local support, it is critically important to involve the local community in the planning, tracking and development of solutions. The local community are those who are most exposed to the poor quality air and toxic elements, and will be those who can benefit most directly from changes, and will be motivated to take part in actions that they believe are positive and they can trust.
Involving local residents in data gathering, also known as Citizen Science, is key to Telraam’s process, not just because it gives access to be able to gather the data, but because it leads to more positive experiences and outcomes overall.
In practice, it is those who are most directly affected who also have the most direct views of the streets and traffic causing the air quality issues. They will be not only motivated to support the research, but will be less likely to resist any intervention because they will know what data has been gathered, when and how, and are more likely to feel ownership of the results.
If you are interested in air quality interventions in your street, neighbourhood, town or city, then you should also make sure you also have the traffic data to support your plans and conclusions.
The overall goal of Clean Air campaigns  are to ensure that we all, but especially children, get a chance to breathe air that is not unhealthy or unsafe from pollutants  including Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), Carbon monoxide (CO), Sulphur dioxide (SO2) and Particular matters (PM10, PM2.5 and PM1).
The EEA reports in its latest annual TERM-report , NO2 concentrations above the EU annual limit value registered at 3% of all monitoring stations, but 75% of those reporting exceedances were traffic stations, with the highest concentrations found in some big cities with a high volume of traffic. According to the EPA , this pollution, specifically from the type of emission from car traffic include respiratory diseases, impacts health and particularly asthma, leading to respiratory symptoms (such as coughing, wheezing or difficulty breathing). People with asthma, as well as children and the elderly, are generally at greater risk for the health effects of NO2.
The three most important interventions to achieve these goals are: