Innovation Exchange

The air that we breathe


Key activities

Benefits and impacts


Air pollution affects everyone in our society. It can have a detrimental effect on the environment, our health, and it contributes to climate change.


UK Government statistics have found that air pollution reduces the life expectancy of every person by an average of 7-8 months with reports estimating that 40,000 annual death are related to poor air quality.


South Lanarkshire’s air quality and that around Scotland has however significantly improved over the last century. This in part is thanks to pollution legislation which was introduced in response to deadly smog found throughout the United Kingdom – the Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968 banned emissions of black smoke, moving residents and industry to convert to smokeless fuels or improved technology. The decline of heavy industry and modern developments like the use of central heating has also contributed to the reduction of smog.


So, what’s the problem?


Whilst improvements and efforts have been made to clean up air quality since the times of the Industrial Revolution, air pollution is still considered a risk to public health, and people are concerned about the air that they breathe.

Taking inspiration from a presentation she saw at South Ayrshire Council using a story map format for their Local Plan, Kirstie Ogilvie, South Lanarkshire Council’s Contaminated Land Officer, saw this as a great opportunity to share with the public the complex data the council’s air quality and contaminated land team has.

south lanarkshire council logo


Themes: Health and Social Care, Parnership and Collaboration, Digital

The Air Quality Team identified data sets, historical mapping, scientific information and campaign materials that they wanted to share with the general public and they set up a working group with the GIS Team in IT and a digital communications rep.


Together they created the Story Map The Air That We Breathe. The process included a round of user experience testing with members of the public.


After some final tweaks the Story Map was embedded in air quality pages of the council’s website and launched with promotion across social media channels. The user experience testing had highlighted the Story Map as a useful resource for schools so there was also an article placed in the council’s Education Newsletter which goes out to all schools in the area.

Adopting this same idea as South Ayrshire Council helped promote the range of issues on air quality specialists at South Lanarkshire deal with, but in an interesting and user-friendly way. Most will agree, it certainly is more engaging than a printout of a map.


But, the whole aim of the project, was to better communicate with the members of the public about air quality, what the council do about it, and what people can do to make a real difference

Thanks to the success of the air quality Story Map Kirstie has convinced her colleagues of the value of a story map. The hope is that updated versions will now follow.


It is reassuring that a multidisciplinary team from different areas of the council worked collectively to better use and communicate spatial data.


The story map is available to view in full here:



Contact details:

To find out more about this case study, please contact:


Kirsty Ogilvie

Tel. 01698 454904

Case study added to site: December 2018

Please report any errors using this web form

Improvement Service, working in partnership with

solace scotland logo