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Air Pollution in the City Visualisation: Nitrogen Dioxide, London

Air Pollution Visualisation: Nitrogen Dioxide, London from digitalurban on Vimeo.

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2): NO2 is produced in high temperature combustion processes and chemical reactions in the atmosphere. Road transport is responsible for 60 per cent of emissions of NOx (the pollutant that causes NO2) in London. It can affect the lungs and airways when exposed over long periods or at high concentrations over a short period.

The movie about depicts our visualisation at CASA of N02 in London, created in association with the Environmental Research Group at Kings College London. The movie was created to illustrate the use of the Virtual London model to gain a sense of location and place when communicating geo-specific information.

Moving data into the third dimension can however be counter productive. While the movie clearly communicates areas of high N02 concentration it also falsely suggests to some that the air is clear above the peaks - which is course it is not as N02 is measured from a set height. Although in general we would argue that it is more successful than the standard 2D map in getting the spatial information across...(?)

Click 'HD' in the movie to view in high definition via Vimeo.


  1. Overlaying some hints of a normal 2D map would help. It's hard to see where it is, and took me quite some time to work it out. Marking key roads and the river would certainly help.

  2. I think you're correct in identifying the problem that people would think that air above the 3D construction is 'safe'. Personally (and as usual :) ) I think a 2d color map layer would work just fine. I'd bet you could find users who look at your map and think that the areas between the roads are 'safe', I assume they are just unsampled?

    A possible improvement would be to produce a set of tubes over each road which are colored. This would give the advantage of making the roads stand out, give the impression that only the roads are sampled and get over the issue of 'high air being clear'.

    Do keep experimenting though!