Llanelli-based Human Factors experts, K Sharp, will unveil research into air pollution and behavioural change at the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors Conference, which takes place on 19 – 21 April.
It goes without saying that we all need air to breathe. But how often do we stop and think about the quality of the air around us? And what can we do about it?
That’s exactly what K Sharp’s Managing Director, Barry Kirby – along with Professor Paul Lewis and Sam Paul Lewis of Vindico – reveals in his new, peer-reviewed paper, Do You Think Air? Public Interest in Air Pollution.
The paper reveals the current levels of public interest on the topic of air pollution. It also offers meaningful data and insights which can be used to develop longer term behavioural change methods for local governments, policy makers, businesses, and communities.
And that’s what the Llanelli-based Human Factors experts will be looking to achieve next.
Using Google Trends, Barry Kirby and the South Wales-based research team collated monthly air pollution-related search data between January 2010 and September 2020. They then aligned this with monitored air pollution levels and BBC News UK website headlines as a proxy to media coverage over time.
The results show that public interest in air pollution has increased gradually over the last decade. Any rise in public interest also directly correlates with increased media coverage of air quality.
The paper’s latest data and insights will inform a Human Factors approach to shift public awareness and behaviour. K Sharp will apply their science-backed techniques – which they have already implemented for several clients in the public and defence sectors – to encourage positive behaviour change.
“Understanding public knowledge of air quality is fundamental to the success of Government policy and communications around air pollution. It’s also key for driving positive change,” says Barry Kirby, Managing Director of K Sharp.
“The choices we make, such as how we heat our homes and what car we opt to drive, and the way we behave, including how frequently we use transport, how long our engines are left idling and how often we burn materials, all have a significant impact on air quality.
“It’s our job as Human Factors practitioners to raise awareness of the impact of these everyday choices, which we so often carry out on autopilot, and to implement systems that will influence behaviour for the better.
“It’s one thing to obtain valuable information on air pollution, but our role is to communicate it in a way that’s easy to interpret, enticing to engage with, relatable to everyday living, and simple to act on.
“The sheer scope of the topic means that it’s hard for one person to see how one person making a change can have an impact.”
Implementing the communications that will lead to positive behavioural change will be the next important step. It’s a topic that will be discussed at this year’s Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors Conference, which is also sponsored by K Sharp.