Tweet-Powered Pigeons Will Monitor London Air Pollution in Real Time

By Gerald Lynch on at

I wish I was funny enough to have made this one up, but no. This is a thing that's actually happening. Air-monitoring company Plume Labs has strapped air-quality sensors to the backs of a flock of pigeons, who will be soaring over London, beaming back data on just how much damage living in the capital does to your lungs.

That is, presumably, when they're not skirting around the pavements chowing down on dropped chips. Or pecking at puke. What is it with pigeons and puke? They just can't help themselves.

I digress.

The "Pigeon Air Patrol" (as the experiment has been christened), will be an interactive one, too. Members of the public can tweet to @PigeonAir and request an air pollution update (based on nitrogen dioxide readings and GPS trackers) on their area. That is, of course, if the 10 pigeons can be arsed to head to your neck of the woods. Maybe leave some crusts out for them?

“Air pollution is a huge environmental health issue, killing 10,000 people every year in London alone," said Romain Lacombe, Plume Labs CEO.

"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. DigitasLBi is also helping us to recruit beta testers who will be the first to access our devices, to build a collaborative, human-powered air quality monitoring network across London.”

It sounds silly then, but the overall goal is a good one. Here's hoping Plume Labs has some sort of homing beacon to call all the pigeons back in then to remove those giant sensors, lest the birds' Apple Watch-wearing magpie mates start taking the piss.