Soon, we will see Google Street View cars fully equipped with environmental sensors roaming in San Francisco to map the city’s air pollution levels.
According to Google, the Street View project will thus see an additional component: environmental assessment. The project is developed in partnership with Aclima, air quality mapping tech company based in San Francisco.
The developmental phase of the project also benefited from the participation of the Environmental Protection Agency which provided the scientific expertise for mapping the fine tunings of air pollution in Denver in a different partnership with Aclima.
Davida Herzl, the CEO of Aclima, announced:
“We have a profound opportunity to understand how cities live and breathe in an entirely new way. With more than half of the world’s population now living in cities, environmental health is becoming increasingly important to quality of life”.
Indeed, environmental health is an important marker for urban communities. However, typically stationary equipment is capable of mapping overall pollution and air pollutants levels. Yet, these fall short of mapping the fine differences that manifest from street to street and one neighborhood to another.
This is where Google’s extensive fleet of Street View cars comes in. Sensitive technology will be placed on top of the vehicles to register particularly these fine differences as they slowly map the streets.
During the Denver test, three Street View cars could be observed taking to the streets sporting environmental sensors that measured the levels of black carbon, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, methane, ozone, as well as volatile organic compounds during 750 hours.
The test was a success. Google Maps is ready to become:
“an environmental sensing platform for mapping the environment”.
The Google-Aclima partnership is digging deep in the variations of air pollution across urban regions.
Hopefully, the results will translate in more than interactive maps that can be followed by residents of the respective cities and add to the development of policies and strategies that have the potential to minimize the negative effects of air pollution.
Photo Credits: fastcompany.net