Skip to main content

Data data every-w-air

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Open data

We have been monitoring air quality for decades and have millions of records for a whole host of pollutants measured across the UK. The data has been available from UK-AIR for many years and the appetite for accessing the data just keeps growing. Visits to the UK-AIR website have doubled in the last two years. Different users want data in different formats or configurations for different technologies……One size doesn’t seem to fit all.

So we are setting up different services to cater for those different needs.

But how valuable is the data?

The value of the monitoring data was reviewed by the air quality expert group (PDF) who concluded that opening access to the data will increase this already highly valuable resource.

What are we doing to develop data services?

This work started with our Ar Quality Open Data Roadmap published in November (PDF) which outlines the mechanisms where data hungry end users can access our data. During the development of the report we have set up a range of pathways to access this data and the latest of the series of tools, that provides a bulk download option, have now gone live on DATA.GOV.UK.

The monitoring data includes detailed descriptions to help make sense of the data using a single vocabulary. This is high quality data used for our compliance purposes, but we are keen to encourage the re-purposing and re-use of the data. So what are the options for accessing this data?

  • Bulk Download (New Service) – Bulk Download of all the measured data for all sites and all locations and all pollutants between 1973 and 2014 (this is large data approx 1GB in total):
  • Atom feeds - These are aimed at users wishing to download larger volumes of data in a consistent format.  You can download specific years for specific pollutants / monitoring stations and subscribe to updates
  • Sensor Object Service (SOS) A service which enables the end user to set up machine automated searches and data polling using this application program interface (API). It is aimed at developers and machine to machine data transfer in open, machine readable data formats.
  • Human searchable service - Carry out detailed and specific searches through our drop down interactive data tools. This service is aimed at the general public and/or traditional desktop air quality data users after small sets of data on specific sites or time periods.
  • Pre-formatted statistics - Pick and choose from popular pre-formatted and prepared data. This service is aimed at the general public and/or traditional desktop air quality data users after pre-canned popular configurations of raw data and aggregated statistics.  (See Quick Links Box).

We Need Feedback

We are actively seeking ways to increase the ease of access and re-use of our data and are in listening mode. We need feedback on the type of user you are, which service works best for you and what your views are on the data and it's structure. If you use our Air Quality data services please give us feedback and let us know if they meet your needs and if not how can they be improved.

You can provide feedback by sending a mail to us at with “AQ data services” in the subject heading. This feedback can help us to continue to develop and design air quality data services to meet Defra’s open data vision of the future.

Sharing and comments

Share this page

1 comment

  1. Comment by Sam Grocock posted on


    I have been using the DEFRA SOS to retrieve pollution concentration data from a few AURN sites and have found the service very useful so far. One thing I have struggled with is the sampling feature ID required to specify the station for the query. I have a few IDs already and am interested in expanding searches for a wider range of sites. I have located a list of all sampling IDs ( but there is no location info to go with them. I wondered whether this information is provided somewhere already or could be provided?