The Clean Air Street was the flagship initiative of our Clean Air Testbed activities in India. As part of it, the Connected Places Catapult and Energy Systems Catapult collaborated with the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) , the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and Urban Morph to transform Church Street – in the central business district – into a vehicle free zone or a ‘Clean Air Street’. At the heart of the initiative was creating a healthy, citizen-centric street environment that encourages sustainable behaviours and acts as a demonstration area for green technologies and transport solutions.
About Church Street
Church Street is one of the busiest streets in the Central Business District, Bengaluru. As part of the Clean Air Street initiative, DULT, supported by Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) and the Bengaluru Traffic Police, organised for Church Street to be closed to motor vehicles over weekends for five months, starting November 2020.
The Clean Air Street aimed to reprioritise clean mobility and showcase UK and Indian solutions while demonstrating the benefits these bring. Insights gathered from the pilots have also been used by participating government agencies to shape policies relating to air quality and electric mobility.
Through a research collaboration with the Indian Institute of Science, Clean Air Street partners have investigated the impact of the street closure on the quality of life of residents and visitors, as well as the economic impact on local businesses, providing evidence in support of the long-term benefits of pedestrianisation – and ultimately creating a blueprint for other streets across Bengaluru and India as a whole.
The Clean Air Street launch
The Clean Air Street was launched on November 7th by the Honourable Chief Minister of Karnataka and a high-level group of government leaders from India and the UK. The event featured a special address by the Minister of State of South Asia and the Commonwealth, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon. Stressing the need for action on clean air, the UK Minister said:
‘The launch of the Clean Air Street Initiative is an example of India’s forward movement on climate action and it shows what we can do when we work together. The UK, as a COP26 President, is committed to join forces with all countries, with civil society, business, and with individuals, to inspire action ahead the conference in November 2021. We owe it to our children to use this though year to pause, reflect and build back better’
The Clean Air Street testbed
A total of 9 SMEs supported by the IfCA programme demonstrated their solutions on the Clean Air Street:
Altigreen is on a mission to eliminate vehicular emissions without compromising mobility. To achieve Carbon Free Transportation, they have created world class electric vehicle technology for ‘last mile transportation’ (i.e. movement of people and goods from a transport hub to a final destination). Designed especially for India and other developing countries, imagined and created in India and, 100% made in India, this technology is ushering in a new age of powerful, efficient and affordable last mile mobility.
Ambee provides accurate, hyperlocal air-quality data in real time, improving lives, productivity, business outcomes and even public health and governance. Their proprietary data-science, backed by possibly the world’s largest private air quality data set, provides air quality solutions with an unprecedented accuracy.
As a participant in the Clean Air Testbed, Ambee collaborated with a research team at the Indian Institute of Science to assess the environmental impacts of the Clean Air Street. Ambee installed three fixed air quality sensors on Church Street to capture and provide data on PM10, PM2.5 and PM1 levels on a continuous basis. Team members from DULT, IISc and CPC were also given access to Ambee’s dashboard from where they were able to monitor, analyse, and visualise real-time air quality data.
Atmospheric Sensors Ltd. (ASL) is a young company vigorously exploiting a new, digital approach to gas sensor management that allows aggregation of a range of sensing technologies to achieve enhanced reliability, sensitivity and selectivity. Two of the principal product lines address ambient air quality, which is monitored by fixed site units and by wearable monitors, respectively, each deploying the multi-technology approach, which is the core signature of the company’s products.
ASL provided 2 wearable sensors to measure personal ‘hyper-local’ exposure conditions experienced by urban dwellers in a cost-effective manner and inform the impact assessment of the Clean Air Street. The deployment was managed by the Indian Institute of Science, who provided the sensors to two students, who commuted to Church Street on a regular basis.
BuymyEV’s IoT-enabled cloud-connected electric bikes on a subscription model provide mobility solutions for first/last/short-mile commute. Their mission is to make hyperlocal commute clean, green & tech-driven.
BuymyEV’s eBikes are a clean mobility solution, designed for commuters with an aim to reduce carbon emissions in polluted cities. To accelerate progress in tackling the challenge of urban air pollution, BuymyEV is also looking to collect air quality data by fitting sensors on the vehicles.
Elon Motors Engineering works towards creating sustainable urban mobility. They believe in pedal-assisted electric bicycles as the future of urban transportation. They develop specific use cases addressing different segments of the market. The company currently has two models – AURITA F (a folding e-bike) and AURITA C (a cargo e-bike).
Elon Motors encouraged the uptake of active mobility and sustainable transport solutions by allowing citizens to test one of their Aurita C cargo e-bikes on the Clean Air Street.
Greendzine is a Bengaluru based product company that specialises in electric vehicles for leisure, personal use and industrial application. Currently, Greendzine has six product variants in the market, this includes a charger, a bidirectional vehicle and a liquid battery.
Greendzine’s bidirectional vehicle is already being used in warehouses. The vehicle costs include additional features designed for industry, such as a path optimisation algorithm, barcode scanner, analytics platform and package sorting.
JAL manufacture indoor and outdoor devices (“Prkruti”) that use low-power IoT sensors to monitor air pollution and weather conditions. Their mission is to make citizens aware of the impact of poor air quality and help them adjust their routines to mitigate these adverse effects.
As a participant in the Clean Air Testbed, Jal Technologies collaborated with the research team at the Indian Institute of Science to supply air quality data needed to assess the environmental impacts of the Clean Air Street. Jal Technologies provided two Prkruti sensors which were installed on Church Street to complement measurements by Ambee and capture data on PM levels, CO, NO2, and CO2 concentrations.
Mastiebikes is targeting young people with an affordable, versatile and durable electric bike. By driving adoption amongst a younger demographic, Mastiebikes aims to embed a new set of transport behaviours into this generation, helping reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Their bike, which is manufactured entirely in India, has a battery with an excellent storage capacity and which is easy to swap in and out, reducing concerns about running out of charge.
Mastiebikes raised awareness about active mobility and sustainable transport solutions by allowing citizens to test 2 of their e-bikes during Clean Air Street activities. The pilot enabled Mastiebikes to collect feedback from over 240 users and potential customers. Based on the insights, Mastiebikes made significant design changes to their bikes and launched a new model – Uno X. The new e-bike has features such as an adjustable handle, a dual seat and a built in LCD display to monitor speed and battery status and address well known behavioral challenges to wider EV adoption such as range anxiety.
Transvahan Technologies is a growing business, engaged in providing sustainable mobility solutions: manufacturing battery–operated electric vehicles and automotive components, as well as offering consulting and training solutions in the automotive, clean-tech and aerospace sectors. The company offer green transport solutions designed with societal needs in mind. Their E-Carts have now been modified for new applications such as solid waste management and use in food courts.