Google + Aclima = air quality map. Yes, that’s right – the search engine giant has now begun the search for pollution in the air, and it’s doing it by equipping its Street View cars with a mobile sensing platform which monitors the air around itself as it goes.
Air pollution is a big issue since it affects not only climate change – which is clearly one of the bigger baddies of this day and age – but it can also damage human health. That is why three of Google’s Street View vehicles have been let loose upon the streets and unsuspecting air or Denver, Colorado. There the cars checked for all possible things you could find in the air: nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, black carbon, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), and other particulate matter that could be damaging either to the ecosystem or to the humans of the area.
This, however, was just a localized test. Denver, therefore, was the test subject to a much larger future zone in which the air will be searched for these noxious elements. The experiment was conducted over a month long period in which the cars, besides remapping the streets of the Coloradoan capital, collected extreme amounts of information regarding the city’s air quality.
Davida Hertzl, the CEO of Aclima, says that as the urban population of the world is continuously increasing, the need for better air quality is all the more dire. And environmental health is not the only issue, as the maps that will be generated by the collaborative project when used on a greater scale will also show, in detail, where the most damage to the atmosphere is being done.
This could help officials to implement stricter eco-friendly regulations in those specific areas, or could inspire people in those areas to find solutions for carbon or methane emissions to be reduced.
The current existing system for monitoring air quality and pollution is a stationary equipment network of the EPA, or the Environmental Pollution Agency of the US. These can measure emissions on a large scale, but have the disadvantage of not being precise enough, and not actually offering people a reliable estimate of the carbon levels in their areas.
As the test in Denver was a success gathering 150 million data points in 750 hours of driving, the next step by Google and Aclima, is to further experiment with this method in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Image source: businesswire.com