Video: Addressing Urban Air Quality in Real-Time

Smog is shown over a city. Smog affects urban air quality. Ground level ozone rules are a factor in efforts to control smog.
Image: Pixabay

Data and sensors may help cities reduce urban air quality impacts in real-time and shape public policy.

SINGAPORE — Airscapes project researchers say it is possible to monitor specific locations for harmful pollution spikes that affect urban air quality, and then reduce emissions by managing sources appropriately.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers tested a distributed network of sensors that crowd-sourced Singapore’s air quality. All of the data streamed to the cloud and was publicly accessible on a real-time Web display.

So if it was a bad air quality day, people that are sensitive to air pollution could check the website and choose to stay away from the haziest districts.

For municipal leaders dealing with moderate-to-severely polluted air implications and public health impacts, Airscapes is showing that cellular data and sensors can identify which metropolitan areas are experiencing the most pollution at a given time. By then overlaying the information with transportation data, for example, opportunities to adjust traffic to reduce emissions are possible.

According to Dr. Marguerite Nyhan, a former Fullbright Scholar and post doctoral researcher leading the project, using technology, public policy of the future doesn’t have to be static. There is enough data available to make real-time decisions that address public health impacts district by district.

Watch Nyhan’s 12-minute TedX Talk to learn more.

Airscapes is one of four finalists in the 2016 Ericsson Innovation Awards competition, which awards cash prizes for the best solutions that will shape the future of cities. The winner will be announced on May 26 in Stockholm, Sweden.

Learn more about Airscapes on the project website.

About the author

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox is Editor of EfficientGov.com and Senior Editor at Lexipol. She is based in Massachusetts.