Google Street View Cars To Measure And Map Urban Air Quality

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street-view-aclimaGoogle may be giving air quality initiatives a hand up in the near future, as a recently-announced partnership between Google Maps and environmental sensor company Aclima will enable the mapping and measuring of air pollution at street-level in three major metro areas in California.

Google’s Street View cars, which are equipped with 360 panoramic cameras, GPS, lasers, and the high-tech computing equipment that ties it all together, are going to be carrying Aclima’s mobile sensor technology platform to communities in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the Central Valley region. The data collected via the Aclima sensors will be available for scientists and air quality experts to use via Google Earth, and it is hoped that this additional street-level air pollution data can eventually help inform the efforts of air quality initiatives around the globe.

“We have a profound opportunity to understand how cities live and breathe in an entirely new way by integrating Aclima’s mobile sensing platform with Google Maps and Street View cars.” — Davida Herzl, co-founder and CEO of Aclima

Announced at the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meeting, the collaboration between Aclima and Google comes on the heels of this summer’s announcement that Aclima’s environmental sensor suite would be mapping and analyzing various air pollutants (nitrogen dioxide, nitric oxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane, black carbon, particulate matter, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)) in Denver. During that initiative, the Aclima-equipped Street View cars clocked 750 hours of drive time, and gathered some 150 million data points about urban air quality, essentially proving that mobile environmental sensing at street level is not only possible, but could be a key component of understanding and addressing air pollution in cities.

“At high concentrations, particulate matter, black carbon, ozone, and other pollutants can trigger asthma attacks and make COPD worse. Worldwide, these pollutants lead to millions of premature deaths every year. These are the pollutants our cars will be measuring. Scientists working with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and other partners are already helping us determine how the equipped vehicles should drive in order to collect data more efficiently.” – Google

Aclima is already working with Google on indoor air quality as well, with a network of connected sensors at 21 of Google’s offices around the world, processing some 500 million indoor environmental data points daily, including temperature, humidity, noise, light, and air pollutants such as carbon dioxide and particulate matter, and which is said to allow Google to “make better decisions on workplace design to support employee wellbeing, productivity and creativity.”

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Derek Markham

Derek lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, fungi, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves fresh roasted chiles, peanut butter on everything, and buckets of coffee.

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