DigitasLBi launch Pigeon Air Patrol: Pigeon powered air pollution awareness

Our friends at DigitasLBi have just launched a rather ingenious project to help Londoners overcome one of the capital’s biggest health problems — its illegal levels of air pollution blamed for thousands of deaths a year. We caught up with the Creative Director behind the project Pierre Duquesnoy to find out a bit more about this pigeon powered project.

Describe Pigeon Air Patrol in 140 characters or less

London’s first flock of air-pollution monitoring pigeons reporting in real time on Twitter.

Where did the insight for the concept come from?

The insight came from the fact that most people ignore air pollution because it is invisible and scientifically complicated.

Strapping sensors to pigeons is a pretty unique way to raise awareness of air pollution. What was the creative process like for this project?

We were looking for a way to collect air pollution data quickly across the city. We thought about using drones but London is a prohibited air space. Racing pigeons travel at speeds of between 50 and 100 mph and have been used in the past to deliver vital information. So we thought why not do it again?

They say never work with children or animals. What have been the biggest challenges with this project so far?

I’ve made this mistake twice but it’s been a huge success each time — I worked on the Roller Babies campaign for Evian in 2009.

The biggest challenges on this project have been learning to be patient with the pigeons — and the British weather.

What have you learned throughout this project?

Never give up.

What other insights about air pollution did you uncover while you were researching?

My favourite insight is that each day we eat 1kg of food, drink 2kg of water and we breathe 20kg of air — but we don’t think about what might be in it.

Is there a long term plan for the project? How would you like to see it impact the air pollution problem?

The long term plan is to launch the London Air Patrol and invite people to take part in a beta test of a wearable air quality sensor which will support further research into air pollution and help to build a live pollution map of London. People can sign up for this here — http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/crowdsource-air-pollution-in-london

We’re also exploring opportunities to launch the Pigeon Air Patrol in other cities worldwide…

What else is making you think ‘F**k that’s good!’ at the moment?


What are the most interesting things happening in London right now?

The Pigeon Air Patrol of course.

What’s the best piece of advice that you have ever been given?

Get people on your side.

Check out this ITV News report on Pigeon Air Patrol

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