Air Pollution Monitoring Now on Google Street View

Aclima sensors on a Google Street View car.
Aclima sensors on a Google Street View car.

Google Street View cars will soon have sensors for air pollution monitoring. The new project will give people access to important health information-the quality of the air they breathe.

Additionally, the information can be used on a larger scale to map where and when pollution is the highest. As the Street View cars collect more data, over time, the information could be invaluable to environmental scientists.

Google and collaborator Aclima, a tech startup, have already completed a month-long pilot program that worked with both the US Environmental Protection Agency and NASA. The DISCOVER-AQ study, as it was called, had cars drive around for 750 hours, collecting 150 data points. The levels of certain compounds were then compared with the EPA measurements to make sure that they matched. Measurements were taken for nitrogen dioxide, nitric oxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane, black carbon particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds.

The pilot program was in Denver, and the sensors will become common in San Francisco in the near future, as well.

The mobility of the cars is a huge asset, as the EPA has stationary sensors for air pollution monitoring located in urban areas, but were never able to obtain street-level measurements.

Aclima is a name that will be heard more often in the future, as they caught people’s attention in June with their Sensory Science system. The Sensory Science system is a sensor that monitors and maps both indoor and outdoor air quality, and can do so for a single building or a whole city. They have already been used by Google for years, and monitor temperature, humidity, noise, light and indoor emissions.

Image (c) Aclima

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