As with most animals and pretty much everything else, they are attributed different meanings and different values by different cultures. For example, while India sees cows as holy, we see them as delicacies. And the same type of different connotations is attributed to pigeons.
For example, while most urban environments either see them as rats with wings, responsible for pollution because of their incessant droppings, or as cute creatures that got overly attached to living in the city, others decided to actually give them a purpose.
In one of the most pigeon-filled places in the world, backpack-wearing pigeons patrol London skies for pollution. It may sound strange, but this is a new measure implemented in order to raise awareness regarding the worryingly high levels of pollution in the city, and hopefully to get the government to do something about it.
The main issue is that London’s pollution levels are so high that they are responsible for the deaths of as many 10,000 people every year, at least according to a report released last year by the mayor. So, in the attempts of getting people informed about the situation, the Pigeon Air Patrol was implemented.
After Pierre Duquesnoy, the creative director for marketing firm DigitasLBi won a contest in London last year, he was tasked with showing the world how a world problem can be fixed via Twitter. He chose air pollution as the issue and the project was born.
The plan was to monitor pollution levels and at the same time to keep the data available to the public. However, his initial idea of using drones quickly fell through, as drones aren’t allowed to fly over London. So he immediately thought of pigeons, as they practically Londoners themselves.
Next, Duquesnoy got in touch with Brian Woodhouse, a member of the Royal Racing Pigeon Association who’s been keeping pigeons for about 65 years. The birds will be fitted with pollution sensors and released all over the city. They will then tweet the readings to whoever is interested.
According to Woodhouse,
I liked the sound of it. I thought it was an extremely good idea, knowing that the pigeons in the First World War and the Second World War used to fly with messages, vital messages, for our troops and allies.
The tiny backpacks are actually very light-weight Velcro harnesses fitted with pollution sensors. They weigh less than an ounce, and they track a large number of known pollutants. In order to get the readings, you’ll have to tweet your London area to @PigeonAir #PigeonAir and you’ll get the readings back.
Hopefully, this will raise enough awareness to get something done about the fatal level of chemicals in the London air.
Image source: Twitter