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Pigeon Air - Teaching Pigeons to Tweet About London Pollution

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Pigeons are inextricably linked to urban griminess, they're opportunist scavengers, all too happy to pick through our litter to find food. As such, the more of a litter problem the city has, the more of them you're likely to see. Most people are disgusted by them, regarding them as pests and disease carriers, often overlooking the fact that they're highly intelligent animals with staggeringly attuned homing abilities.

Well, a British company called Plume Labs have found a way to use them to spread a message about keeping London clean. They attach air quality sensors to the birds in question and send them out across the city skyline. The readings are then tweeted by the company on an account called @PigeonAir.

The birds are sent to specific neighborhoods, and people can tweet Plume to request locals scans if they feel the need. Aside from their homing abilities, pigeons are also surprisingly fast, when the need arises, reaching speeds of up to 80mph, allowing them to cover a remarkable amount of ground in a relatively short space of time.
So far they've scanned Westminster and parts of central London, revealing high pollution levels in the former and moderate ones in the latter. This is a big deal, even moderate pollution levels are harmful if you remain exposed to them for long periods, and supposedly all 50 of the worst affected areas in the UK are in London. Air pollution is thought to kill thousands of people on a yearly basis in London alone, and directly contributes to the spread of respiratory diseases and infections.
Of course, all Plume can really do with the pigeon project is raise awareness, but by using Twitter as a means of propagating that spread, they're all but ensuring further engagement and involvement from London's population, which will hopefully lead to more pressure on the government to make more steps to cleaning the air.

The cleanest cities in the world, like Calgary, Oslo, Ottawa and Zurich all champion clean, low waste public transport systems and traffic reduction measures. Currently, London is the 8th most congested city in Europe, and while initiatives like the rented bikes and the gradual improvements to the underground have helped, there's still plenty more to be done.



Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF


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Pigeon Air - Teaching Pigeons to Tweet About London Pollution Reviewed by Callum Davies on Tuesday, March 15, 2016 Rating: 5

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