A London-based tech company came with the idea of fitting a squad of ten pigeons with miniaturized backpacks that can sense air pollution and beam collected data to the public in real time.
The Pigeon Air Patrol’s mission will last just three days, and London’s Twitter users are invited to tweet their location in the city to @PigeonAir to learn just how polluted their area is.
Project managers explained that three of the ten birds named Norbert, Coco, and Julius will ‘reply’ instantly to people tweeting their location.
Furthermore, the data collected by all the birds will be used to create a live map that gets constant updates as pigeons carry their air-monitoring backpacks around London.
The flock was deployed on Monday in Brick Lane.
Pierre Duquesnoy of the DigitasLBi who is involved in the project noted that there is nothing ‘sexy’ about air pollution. But in order to make people more aware on the issue the team had to find a way to make the problem more “accessible and relevant.”
Duquesnoy noted that people showed a lively interest in air pollution after they were introduced to the Pigeon Air Patrol through a compelling storytelling. Duquesnoy’s team joint forces with Plume Labs, a startup that develops air pollution tracking devices.
Romain Lacombe, CEO of the firm, explained that air pollution is the silent killer that claims the lives of 10,000 people annually in The Old Smoke alone. Lacombe added that strapping air sensors on racing pigeons was not only meant to raise awareness on the topic, but also help people better understand the implications of the serious environmental issue.
Helen Lawrence of Twitter explained that it is not the first time when animals and elements tweet live information to the microblogging platform’s users. There are rivers that tweet when water level is too high and sharks that tweet when they or their peers move dangerously close to the shore.
The birds involved in the campaign were not harmed. Plus they had a team of vets that checked their health status on a regular basis. After the three days have passed, they are free to return to their normal daily routine. Plus, the tiny backpacks they now carry are as light as a feather.
The tech company plans to convince more Londoners to become testers of a device similar to the pollution-monitoring backpacks under a new project called Air Patrol. The team hopes to lure in especially bicycle riders, people who engage regularly in jogging and even pram pushing.
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