Google’s Street View cars offer block-by-block pollution readings
The EDF (environmental defense fund) and Google Earth Outreach worked together to measure air pollution by equipping Google Street Viewers with sensors and mapping smog block by block! You can see the interactive air quality map at the Environmental Defense Funds website. Via Newatlas
Tracking air pollution in a city can be an inexact science, typically relying on a set of fixed monitors and computer modeling to paint a general picture of air quality in the area. Researchers have now explored a way to offer block-by-block, highly localized data, and it involves fitting out Google Street View vehicles with air pollution monitors as they roam around town.
Scientists from the Environmental Defense Fund and the University of Texas (UT) at Austin got together with Google to equip its Street View cars with devices to measure air pollution in Oakland, California. Tracking air quality in this 78-square-mile (202 km sq) region is usually handled by three stationary monitors, which leaves some uncertainty around the pollution in between.
The Google Street View vehicles, conversely, drove more than 14,000 miles (22,500 km) and gathered more than three million unique measurements at various times of the day, week and year across 2015 and 2016. The result is what the team describes as the most spatially precise datasets of mobile air pollution measurements ever recorded.
This data was then collated and turned into an interactive map of the area that tells the tale of varying pollution levels across the city’s streets. It shows where hotspots of different types of pollutants have formed and even offers explanations as to why, drawing on intel from local community leaders with “deep experience” in pollution issues.
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