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Brief Published: 17 Aug 2020

Breathable Billboards Track Local Air Quality in Real Time

Eighty-five per cent of all UK consumers agree that brands need to address air pollution

Global Action Plan (GAP) has launched “breathable billboards” which react in real time to localised pollution data, alerting passersby to air quality. The installations mark the launch of GAP’s #BuildBackCleanerAir campaign, which advocates for immediate action to tackle air pollution. We track the burgeoning consumer demand for cleaner air, and how brands can help.

The UK non-profit launched its billboards in July at three London sites (Canary Wharf, Finchley Road and Westfield White City). They feature a set of floral lungs which bloom when air pollution is low and wither if levels are high, drawing consumer attention to the quality of the air they’re breathing. The billboards rely on real-time data collected by Gap’s in-house pollution database, the Clean Air Hub.

As part of the campaign, GAP also published its Build Back Cleaner Air: Covid-19 & Air Pollution report. The survey found that 59% of UK consumers had noticed an improvement in air quality during lockdown, with air pollution having become a greater cross-generational concern since the outbreak began. Forty-four per cent of respondents aged 18-24 are worried about it, compared with 26% of those aged 55+. However, 85% of all consumers agree that brands need to address air pollution as lockdown lifts. See The Brief for a great example of the automotive industry doing its part.

The pandemic has put respiratory health front of mind – 72% of respondents think clean air is even more important in light of Covid-19’s effect on the lungs. The report also explores the link between poor air quality and consumers being more vulnerable to catching the virus. Our Covid-19 + Inequality report delves further into the social issues intensifying the impact of the pandemic on specific consumers.

Lockdown has made consumers more willing to sustain behaviours that will trigger a long-term reduction in air pollution. Fifty-three per cent of respondents say they will cycle or walk more after lockdown, while 81% are willing to wait at least three days for non-urgent parcel delivery – if it means less pollution on their streets. We explore how brands are creating cleaner urban commutes in Rethinking City Mobility and Embracing the Bike Boom.