Mitigating the Health Impact of Air Pollution: Hawa Dawa wins innovation competition in Northern Ireland

Hawa Dawa wins Small Business Research Initiative innovation competition run by a consortium of partners including the Northern Ireland Department for Economy to undertake innovative piece of work linking the effects of air pollution and health.

Ambient, outdoor, pollution is a significant contributor to urban asthma and diabetes events and hospitalisations whilst at the same time actually being a manageable problem with the use of better monitoring technology, granular data analysis and intuitive digital tools.

The primary aim of Hawa Dawa’s work is to improve self-management and advance local healthcare planning for at-risk individuals by providing access to robust, science-based exposure profiles and relevant information on specific pollutant risks as well as live and forecast pollution episodes. Based on historic health and pollution metrics, the project will develop customer-focused digital tools to help reduce exposure and manage risk as well as a dashboard to assist urban health planners, clinicians and authorities by combining all relevant parameters – be it health or education, mobility or traffic – into a single digital interface that allows for scenario planning and predictive analysis with the aim of reducing the health risks of pollution.

The local team met with the project leads in Belfast in November to discuss the broader potential of the project to the shape of future healthcare commissioning and socio-economic planning and most importantly improving the health of asthma and diabetes sufferers.

The project extends the critical work Hawa Dawa is already doing in the health effects space, leveraging the huge potential of geospatial and environmental data to help better manage pollutant exposure for at-risk groups.

Neuroscientist and epidemiology expert Dr. Birgit Fullerton of Hawa Dawa says: “This project positions us as forerunners in the mainstreaming of environmental data into critical healthcare decision-making. Health chiefs and researchers globally are acknowledging the urgency of action to tackle dangerous levels of pollution. Our privileged position in this research takes us a step closer to being able to alleviate some of the health risks and healthcare burden associated with poor air quality.”

The findings of the initial phase of the work will be presented in Belfast in March 2020.

About SBRI

SBRI uses the buying power of the public sector to support business in the development of innovative solutions to address problems across areas including education, health, agriculture and infrastructure.

It encourages innovation in the public sector to assist in the provision of more effective public services; and also helps public sector bodies take advantage of new and emerging technology.