Enabling the public sector to save money, innovate and make more effective policy decisions by using space technology and data

Case Study: University of Leicester – Hot Spot Mapper

General Information

  • Provider: University of Leicester
  • Technology utilised: Earth observation (EO)
  • Thematic area: Environment Natural Hazards
  • End user(s): Local Authorities


  • 2015

Project Background / Overview

Under European legislation, Local Authorities in the UK have a statutory duty to assess air quality and improve it where possible, or at least limit deterioration. Poor air quality is a persistent problem at both national and local scales, and has significant financial and health impacts. Dynamic data at fine spatial scales is required to enable Local Authorities to make decisions, but sources of such data are limited.

This project created a tool – the Hot Spot Mapper – which utilised data from the Copernicus Atmosphere Service (formerly MACC). This data was combined with a range of other data products ranging from other sources of air quality data such as ground based monitoring, output from national air quality models etc. to demographic data including population age, density, general health and indices of multiple deprivation. The output included hot spot maps identifying areas with the poorest air quality, thematic maps identifying hot spots where poor air quality correlates with high deprivation etc. and data tables.

Each Local Authority could vary the inputs and outputs depending on their unique requirements. The aim was to enable Local Authorities to make better and more cost-effective decisions when it comes to improving air quality.

Lessons Learned

The combination of multiple data products can be used to generate multiple output datasets depending on the specific requirements of an individual Local Authority.

Costs and Benefits

The Hot Spot Mapper offers a low cost (open source) solution that will empower Local Authorities to substantially reduce the costs of improving air quality and mitigate risks to human health from poor air quality.

The tool offers the opportunity for Local Authorities to integrate local data with multiple sources of air quality data – including satellite derived data. This should enable them to build up a better picture of high priority areas. This insight should allow better decisions to be made to target areas at greatest risk when it comes to air quality sensor positioning, public health care and promotion of the health benefits of good air quality, traffic management and planning.

Next Steps

The next steps are to further develop the business model for the Hot Spot Mapper. This would need to cover aspects such as the software, data and / or service provision and required processes.

Ongoing efforts would also need to include engaging with potential end users to better understand what data outputs would be beneficial and how best to present this data and information, and further prototyping before the Hot Spot Mapper could become fully operational.