Air Quality+ Making the air in Sheffield better with open data

Why we are doing this

Air quality is a significant concern for Sheffield citizens and administration. There are a number of contributing factors and impacts of air pollution (including pollutant levels themselves) that are widely measured or recorded. By enabling the release of this as open data we can help increase public understanding and dialogue around a far-reaching and potentially data-rich facet of life in the city.

As well as helping to address the challenge of air pollution, we can stimulate greater awareness of the general usefulness of open data. We’re confident of the opportunities to increase civic engagement, citizen science and data literacy.

What we are doing

We’re working with public and private sector data holders to release data related to air quality and its causes and consequences under open licenses for communities and organisations to access and re-use. This includes near real-time data on pollutant levels in Sheffield collected by a network of monitoring stations, as well as data related to the issue of air quality, such as industrial activity, traffic and transport, public health, weather and land use.

As we instigate the publication of data made openly available to the community, we will deliver a series of events and activities to support individuals, communities and organisations to engage with open data through a focus on the specific topic of air quality and the improved understanding and capabilities that can be realised through better use of data and evidence.

Opportunities to get involved

We’ve designed a series of events and funding opportunities to stimulate informed public dialogue about Sheffield’s air quality challenge using open data.

AQ+ Cultural Commissions – Art, Data & Quality of Air: We’re commissioning three artworks to be developed that are are inspired by or use open data made available through the  Air Quality+ project. A free public launch event to showcase the pieces will take place on 23 Jan 2015 in the Showroom Cafe. The pieces will then be exhibited in the Sheffield Institute of Arts atrium from 17 Feb to 17 Mar.

Co-Design Workshops: Over the course of 3 co-design workshops, we’re inviting stakeholders who collect or might use relevant data to gather and collaborate to identify the gaps, weaknesses and potential uses for Air Quality+ data . Through these sessions citizens and businesses will create new insights and opportunities from the data that re-define the ambition and story of air pollution in Sheffield, and allow us improve the quality of data collected and published. Register for 23 Jan, 13 Feb, 13 Mar.

Build for Better Air Quality+: a hands-on maker day  on 14 March. If you run a community venue across Sheffield (such as a Digital Media Centre, co-working space, community library or school), you can also build and take away a visualisation station that will help bring to life the Air Quality+ data for your community.

Make Air Better With Data Hack & Play Series: hands-on evening sessions on 23 March, 30 March, 13 April to hack, play and design with the Air Quality+ data to create better urban experiences, targeting data experiments across 4 challenge categories. Develop immersive visualisations, generate new art or music, prototype new apps, games and products, or conceive improved civic policies.  Plus a Show & Tell / Awards night for data-driven creations on 20 April.

Air Quality+ Conference: public talks and interactive sessions on 10 July to round up the progress, outputs and lessons from running the project, and to look ahead to the engagement and innovation opportunities for air quality and open data in Sheffield.


Air quality is a live issue for Sheffield. The city’s Air Quality Action Plan suggests that poor air quality in Sheffield causes 500 premature deaths per year due to respiratory and cardiovascular issues. The levels of emissions produced by traffic and industry are often outside what are deemed to be safe levels. Decisions over issues like speed limits on the M1, the building of a new Ikea, or the Bernard Road incinerator, all have to balance the impact on air quality with other costs and benefits. Improved availability of data and evidence and knowledge and skills in using data can aid our understanding of air quality in Sheffield and help us better respond to the impacts.


The Air Quality+ project is a collaboration between Better With Data and Sheffield City Council. We are working with civil society partners, artists, businesses and entrepreneurs, universities, researchers and local authority partners across Sheffield and the broader open data community to open up new insight and opportunities through air quality related data.

Air Quality+:

The Air Quality+ project is funded through the Local Government Association’s Open Data Breakthrough Fund. This supports local authorities to release previously unavailable data and develop the capability to improve access to their local authority data.

LGA: Open Data Funding for Local Government