Sensor Networks for Air Quality

at Heathrow Airport

Following the success of the MESSAGE project, SNAQ-Heathrow will deploy a high density air quality sensor network in and around London Heathrow Airport. This will use state of the art low cost sensors for selected gases and for particulates, providing an unprecedented data-set. The project has wide ranging support from DfT, BAA, BA, OMEGA and the London Boroughs adjacent to Heathrow Airport. It is funded by NERC from January 2011- December 2013.

The specific objectives are:

  • Deployment of a pilot sensor network for a range of air quality metrics in and around Heathrow Airport using close-to-market, inexpensive field-based sensors and instruments, coupled to existing infrastructures such as GPS and GPRS.
  • Development of novel software tools for network calibration, analysis and data-mining, visualisation and interpretation.
  • Evaluation of the sensor network data against bottom-up emissions inventories and dispersion model results, leading to improvements in both.
  • Source attribution outputs for London Heathrow based on the sensor network system data and corresponding detailed data collection for emissions source activities during the measurement period.
  • Creation of a calibrated, high spatial and temporal resolution data set including NO, NO2, CO, CO2, SO2, O3, VOCs and size-speciated PM for further scientific and policy studies.
  • Definition of best practice guidance in the design, configuration, deployment and operational management of networks of sensors for air quality studies and potentially in other environments.

The partners involved in the project are:

  • the Centre for Atmospheric Science and the eScience Centre at the University of Cambridge
  • the Centre for Transport Studies and the eScience Centre at Imperial College, London
  • the Centre for Atmospheric & Instrumentation Research at the University of Hertfordshire
  • the School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences at the University of Manchester
  • The National Physical Laboratory
  • Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants Ltd.

For general project information contact Mark Hayes (
For all chemistry/sensor information contact Rod Jones (