Pigeons wearing backpacks help monitor pollution

Posted at 7:57 AM, Mar 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-18 10:10:04-04

In London this week, air pollution was being monitored in a very unique way.

A flock of pigeons, that’s right—pigeons-- were tracking air quality from street to street in the city. 

They’re part of the Pigeon Air Patrol. There’s Coco, Julius and Norbert—just to name a few.

The birds were equipped with light backpacks full of sensors. With their load, they could track pollution all around the city, according to Plume Labs. 

The project was the brainchild of Plume Labs in partnership with a UK marketing agency and Twitter.

Plume Labs is known for their app Plume Air Report that informs people in real time about the pollution in their city using data from "air pollutant monitoring stations around the world."

The birds flew for several days this week—and people could actually tweet at them to get information about their part of the city.

“Air pollution is a huge environmental health issue, killing 10,000 people every year in London alone. Putting air sensors on the back of pigeons goes beyond raising awareness of this problem and helps Londoners understand the impact of pollution in an accessible, tangible and immediate way," stated Plume Labs CEO Romain Lacombe on the company's official blog. 

Now, Plume Labs is recruiting Londoners to be like the pigeons—and test out their pollution sensors. The idea to build a human-powered air quality network.