Google Provides Public With Free Monitoring Of Neighborhood Pollution

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Google is testing sensors on some of its streetview cars in Oakland to try and pinpoint sources of pollution. And the data is available to anyone.

It’s not only taking pictures of your neighborhood, some are literally sniffing around your house as they drive by.

Melissa Lunden, Managing Research Director of Aclima Labs said, “While it’s driving around we’re able to ingest air samples.”

This pilot research project is a collaboration with Google, Aclima Labs, the Environmental Defense Fund and the University of Texas at Austin.

They equipped four cars for a year. They drove around Oakland 30 times covering 14,000 miles recording samples one every second totaling 3 million samples.

Lunden said, “I like, really like what we’re doing. I want to change to world. I’m an air quality scientist. This is really going to help.”

Steve Hamburg, Chief Scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund said, “We can build a picture from those multiple sniffs so that we find a stable map of where [the] pollution is over time and then thus we figure out where the sources are.”

That map is available free for anyone to go online and use, an extremely detailed graphical image of your street and the air.

Dr. Joshua Apte, an Assistant Professor of environmental engineering at the University of Texas said, “There are some streets with lots of hot spots because there are different activities that go on in different parts of the block that can cause pollution to vary.”

The folks behind this interesting technology say that it’s not going to be limited only to Google cars.

It could be installed in the future on vans of trucks or anything else that might pass through your neighborhood.

To look more closely at your street, click here: https://www.edf.org/airqualitymaps.

More from Don Ford
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