Forget crowdsourcing, Plume Labs tries flock-sourcing with connected pigeons

There are several apps out there crowdsourcing environmental data using smartphones on the ground (our app WeatherSignal among them), but Plume Labs has started collecting pollution data directly from the sky with the help of some feathered friends. This week, the Pigeon Air Patrol took flight over London. Each squadron member flies with a backpack containing a nitrogen dioxide sensor, which collects air pollution and ozone level data as the pigeons make their way from the city center to Northeast London.

Pigeon Air

Plume Labs, a global air quality monitor, created the project with the help of DigitasLBi London pigeon racer Brian Woodhouse. If it sounds like a publicity stunt, that’s because it largely is, though certainly for a good cause. The project lasts only three days, and while Plume does expect to collect some useful data about air quality in London skies, the main purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness about air pollution and draw attention to Plume’s other crowdsourced data collection efforts (those involving humans, not birds). Twitter UK is lending a hand, helping the London community virtually interact with the project through the handle @pigeonair.

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