As the world has progressed and with multiplying populations, air pollution has become a real issue. As a result of the increasing levels of air pollution, an estimated seven million people die of it worldwide. According to WHO, 9 out of 10 people breathe air that exceeds their guidelines. Their data identifies that people from low-middle income countries are those suffering from the highest levels of exposure as they generally have the highest population levels, such as Indian and China.
Air pollution is a significant threat to all and causes a range of issues for cities, such as low hanging smog from fumes causing major health issues and climate issues. Health issues connected to air pollution include heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and acute respiratory infections.
Breath London is one of the most innovative smart city projects that helps track and analyse air pollution. The project uses 100 AQMesh pods and helps to determine the impact of air pollution on health using a combination of air pollution science, epidemiology and toxicology.
In response to growing concerns, many cities have taken steps to improve air pollution and quality by introducing technology to help monitor the air. Using Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT), many cities have improved their air quality and efforts for measuring, but how?
IoT to measure air pollution
To measure air pollution through the use of IoT, cities have had to connect sensors that gather information and send vital data. Using this data helps cities understand the air quality and map and track areas of high levels of pollution.
They can track the air quality and area, give them a comprehensive understanding, monitor changes in air pollution over time, and identify problem areas that might be causing more pollution than others and help build a better air pollution model. Using sensors to measure air pollution can be done the three ways. The first is to use sensors that integrate into existing infrastructures, secondly using mobile sensors and thirdly analysis of cell phone data which helps understand resident exposure.
Existing infrastructure sensors
One of the easiest ways to measure air quality is by integrating air quality sensors into existing infrastructure in key areas. Most sites are made of high rise buildings which are very close to one another, making it the perfect playground for air quality sensors, allowing them to pick up real-time data of substance. These infrastructures could be buildings or lampposts.
Using a range of technologies, the sensors are able to track the levels and number of air pollutants such as carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and other matter. This helps cities track and predict air quality to help take preventative action.
Some cities have opted to implement mobile sensors. Unlike the above sensors attached to permanent features in a city, mobile sensors are attached to devices of objects that move through the city. Connecting sensors to cars and buses help to map the air pollution of an entire city quickly. This means not only can a vast amount of data be recorded, but it also creates a more rich data set as the data is coming directly from objects moving around in the city. Using this data can help quickly identify problematic areas compared to the above method, collecting data from a static building. Collecting data in this way also allows cities to capture more comprehensive data and at any given time.
Cell phone data collection
It is essential to understand the air quality in a city, but there also needs to be some focus on how the air quality and pollution affect the residence of the city. By using mobile data, cities can map residents’ routes using automated cell phone data, giving a more vivid understanding of how citizens are exposed to areas of poor air quality. In today’s world, Collecting data in this way is simple and effective as almost everyone has a smartphone that can help cities track air quality.
The Future of air pollution
As many countries begin to focus their efforts on reducing their carbon footprint, we will see a host of new technologies that will help reduce air pollution. One of the biggest causes of air pollution currently comes from vehicles and transport.
Effort in increasing electric cars will help to reduce pollution and improve better air quality. Currently, China is the biggest electric vehicle consumer globally with the highest amount of Teslas sales. Improved air quality results in a better quality of life for all.