Addresspollution took an invisible killer and made it visible, through a data-driven approach that reframed it in a completely new way.
It turned a complex and overlooked raw data set into a first of its kind, public health system; understandable and meaningful for all.
Using this data, we hijacked a trillion pound property market and permanently embedded ourselves into its economics and regulations.
By making the data personal and relevant we transformed apathetic homeowners into environmental activists, relating air pollution to capitalist self interest.
As a result, we made headlines, drove individual action, created systemic change and rewrote the law.
Air pollution is an invisible killer. Unseen, ignored, and all the more deadly as a result.
10,000 Londoners die prematurely every year due to toxic air. The Mayor of London has declared it a public health emergency. Air pollution has recently been linked to infertility, premature mortality and Covid-19 fatalities - to name but a few of the grisly consequences. And yet public apathy and political inertia were stopping action on the issue.
The data was there but it was hard to digest and seemingly irrelevant to people’s daily lives. How could we get Londoners to see the problem, and care enough to do something about it?
And as a small crowdfunded campaign group with a limited budget, how could we get a complicated, invisible issue talked about in the short term, while creating systemic change in the long term?
Describe the Creative idea / data solution (20% of vote)
To get people to pay attention to the crisis we needed to make the available data intelligible and relatable.
King’s College London had the goods: 1.5 billion raw data points covering NO² levels. But, when we pitched up it was just unintelligible numbers that didn’t tell a story. To make sense of this gold-mine, we developed a five band rating system, which KCL approved, starting at low (1) and progressing up to very high (5). Each bracket (1-5) had health and financial costs attached to it.
For health, we plotted out the percentage increase in risk of disease related mortality created by an increase in 10mg of nitrogen dioxide per band.
For finance, we commissioned a study of 500 Londoners. The panel were asked questions that analysed how air pollution would influence where they choose to live and how much they would be prepared to pay for a property
Describe the data driven strategy (30% of vote)
Focusing on the health risks alone hadn’t worked previously - people just told themselves ‘this won’t happen to me’. So, to make Londoners open their eyes to the perils of air pollution, we used data to tie it to something they care about a lot: property prices.
Using the system we created with King’s College London, we built a website (addresspollution.org) on which any Londoner could find out the ugly truth of air pollution and the potential impact on the value of their home. Shocked homeowners could then demand action at a local and national level.
By breaking complex data into a simple communication system and attaching it to property prices, we used a capitalist model of self interest to make an environmental issue impossible to ignore. And we, a tiny group, took the clout of the trillion pound property market and used it to our advantage.
Describe the creative use of data, or how the data enhanced the creative output (30% of vote)
The website was the simplest and most effective data visualisation - for the first time Londoners could generate a report to see what they were breathing and the effects on their health and property.
To launch it we ran a multi-channel data-driven guerrilla campaign.
We created an interactive data-responsive design system that spiked as air pollution was spiking, which ran in real-time responsive DOOH.
We used data to serve up ads to 650 real-time responsive DOOH sites when air pollution was spiking.
By crunching the data we were able to target wealthy areas in high air pollution zones - home to some of the most influential UK landowners, with a direct line to the Government.
We direct mailed estate agents, ran property classifieds and projected onto billion pound property developments. In doing so, we made the invisible problem into a rolling news story.
List the data driven results (20% of vote)
WE MADE HEADLINES
We reached over 36 million people and were discussed on the likes of BBC, Good Morning Britain, Channel 4, Sky News, and made the front page of The Times twice.
WE DROVE ACTION
Over 465,467 London households have generated an Air Quality Report. Far more than double the number of properties changing hands in London in any year.
WE GOT FUNDING TO EXPAND THE SYSTEM
The European Climate Coalition awarded us funding to launch nationwide including two more pollutants.
WE CREATED SYSTEMIC CHANGE
Estate agents now have a legal obligation to disclose our information. Zoopla has made our system available. Another portal, Search Smartly, now use our API to produce Air Quality Ratings for every listing.
Local councils have adopted the measures homeowners petitioned. Most importantly, we achieved the policy change we lobbied for: to bring forward the ban on petrol and diesel cars from 2040.