Invisible Dust

London | Sunday 17 February
Pollution level: Moderate

Solving Urban Challenges with Data in Manchester



In October 2015 Manchester launched a yearlong research project which aims to help Manchester’s transport chiefs improve air quality by managing Greater Manchester’s traffic flow more effectively. The project, called ‘SimplifAI’ aims to explore how Transport for Greater Manchester’s Urban Traffic Control team can utilize data on average traffic speed, wind speed, temperature, nitrogen dioxide emissions and route geography. The hope is that though accumulating and analysing the data the Urban Traffic Control team will be able to increase traffic flows in real time, minimise delays and consequently reduce air pollution.

This form of data collection could potentially allow transport authorities to provide road users with live air quality information. It will also open up the potential for national automated traffic flow management.

Nearly £160,000 was awarded by the government’s innovation agency, Innovate UK as part of a government competition – ‘Solving Urban Challenges with Data’.

Transport for Greater Manchester’s head of highways, Peter Molyneux, observed, “Congestion is a significant contributor to air pollution in Greater Manchester and we’re committed to developing new ways of managing the roads to improve air quality across the region.”

“This project should help us to plan better and make better-informed, real-time decisions when balancing traffic flows on the network or tackling issues such as road closures or major incidents. Ultimately, it could form an important part of our work to keep traffic moving in Greater Manchester, which is essential to the strength of the regional economy and the well-being of our communities.”

The ‘Solving Urban Challenges with Data’ competition was devised to offer investment in innovative, commercial solutions to increase the resilience, quality of life or economic performance of urban areas by integrating environmental, social and economic data with data from other sources.

Invisible Dust is working with digital artist Kasia Molga and scientist Professor Frank Kelly, as part of Manchester European City of Science, to create an exciting new project ‘Human Sensor’. Performs will traverse the city wearing air quality responsive illuminating capes created by Molga. This public performance will offer a rare opportunity for the public to engage with the issue of invisible pollutants though a visible, tangible, live artwork. Data collected though the project will be available to the public though an exciting and ambitious interactive website.

‘Human Sensor’ is commissioned and produced by Invisible Dust in partnership with Manchester, European City of Science. It is supported by The Wellcome Trust’s Sustaining Excellence Award and Arts Council England.


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