In the UK, poor air quality results in 28-36000 deaths (costing 20 billion pounds) annually, a fact recognised by the new Environment Act and an increasing governmental focus on air quality. Together with the 2040 World Health Organisation air quality targets, significant pressure is mounting on city councils to deliver solid results and support the health of their citizens. Unfortunately the lack of a comprehensive and unified dataset makes both decision making and performance tracking virtually impossible. Linking air quality data with the cost of healthcare is essential for prioritising clean air action.

Initial findings suggest that every pound spent on improving air quality leads to 13 pounds saved in future healthcare… but this can only be achieved through a holistic approach. Healthy Air Nano-Data (HAND) is ETA’s integrated platform which combines transport, air quality and healthcare data together to improve decision making for public funding. Data collection is currently focused on individual departments (silos) which creates a narrow view of the wider issues and risks wasting funds on unproductive outcomes. HAND removes silo thinking and addresses air quality at a comprehensive higher level.  

The HAND digital data tool (featuring the HAND health index) enables city councils and healthcare providers to quantify their decisions in terms of the financial cost of health to the city. HAND draws near-real-time data from multiple sources to create a geospatial data map for accurate and productive decision making. This elevates the accountability out of the silos and enables top-level, systematic, city-wide solutions for air quality and health. 

In 2022 ETA won the Innovate fast grant – bringing together a consortium to examine the vulnerable in Birmingham and develop quantifiable links between air pollution and healthcare cost on a geospatial basis.