Google has taken their Street View mapping whether on their cars or with the Trekker backpack to places all around the world: cities, mountain tops, the ocean floor and more. These photos have allowed us to become familiar with places we plan to visit as well as tour places we may never be able to go to.
It was only a matter of time though before Google moved on from just bringing us photos from these places and started delivering even more information. The tech giant has teamed up with Aclima to incorporate environmental sensors into its Street View cars to measure air quality at street level in urban environments.
The sensors measure the amount of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, nitric oxide, ozone, methane, black carbon, particulate matter and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in the air. With that data, Google will create high resolution maps of air quality in a city, letting people see pollution data by neighborhood.
The partnership has already outfitted three cars in Denver for a month-long test. The cars drove for a total of 750 hours and gathered 150 million data points that they correlated with stationary readings from the EPA.
“Many things affect air quality – everything from our transportation and energy choices, to green space and the weather,” said Davida Herzl, co-founder and CEO of Aclima. “Understanding these complex relationships is critical to managing and improving air quality. The Denver test prepares us for scaling the system and introducing Aclima’s mobile sensing platform to communities anywhere Google Street View vehicles drive. There’s unlimited potential for our work to help improve the health and resilience of communities everywhere.”
In the fall, they'll equip cars with the sensors in the San Francisco Bay area to create air quality maps before moving on to other cities around the world. You can check out the results of the Denver test here and learn more about the project below.