Seeing The Invisible – Visualising Air Pollution

04.12.2019 2 min read

According to World Health Organisation, air pollution is the largest single health risk. Within this country, to stand up against this crisis, the UK Clean Air Strategy was launched this year. One aspect of this strategy is advocating more accessible information on air quality in order to act as a catalyst for public engagement; Temple have long been working on ways to improve how scientific and often complex information can be made more accessible to non-specialists. In an article written for PlaceTech, Temple’s Stephen Bell and Alice McLean look at our work in using Virtual Reality as a mechanism for creating more engaging and immersive ways to experience air quality and understand how it is impacted by urban developments and interventions.

By transforming air quality modelling outputs into gradated colour schemes we can quickly discern the good areas from the bad. By plugging in various scenarios the user can toggle between these within the immersive environment to see and understand how impacts might change. The power of Virtual Reality in this aspect is that we can explore these themes at a detailed level of granularity and make use of this medium’s ability to improve recall accuracy. Policy-makers can understand impacts of policy changes; designers can consider multiple scenarios to truly understand the impact ‘on the ground’; the public can participate and have an informed say into the changes to their neighbourhoods.

Virtual Reality can really help us all learn about air quality and help us make healthier places to live and work.

For the full PlaceTech article go to