Google has teamed up with Aclima to incorporate environmental sensors into its Street View cars. Initially tested on three vehicles in the Denver metro area, the partnership should lead to a better understanding of overall air quality in urban environments.
Since its introduction back in 2007, Google's Street View platform has become a reliable and versatile tool. Quite aside from providing its 360-degree views from our roads, it's taken us underwater, across hiking trails and even to the top of mountains. The latest endeavor aims to deliver useful data on the air we breathe.
The goal of the project is to create high resolution maps of air quality across cities. It will see Street View cars equipped with sensors that allow them to take measurements of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, nitric oxide, ozone, methane, black carbon, particulate matter and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) – all of which can have a negative impact on health.
The sensors have been fitted to three cars for a month-long test in the Denver metro area. In that time, the vehicles clocked some 750 hours of drive time and gathered an impressive 150 million data points.
The Street View readings will be combined with measurements from the US Environmental Protection Agency's network of stationary monitoring equipment, which already works to assess air quality. California-based environmental sensor network specialist Aclima believes that its vehicle-mounted sensors will significantly improve our understanding of urban air pollution at a street level, by introducing a whole new body of data for analysis.
Google and Aclima intend to roll out the air quality mapping effort to the San Francisco Bay Area this Fall (Northern Hemisphere), and will continue to work with scientists and communities to figure out the best ways to make use of all that new data.
"We have a profound opportunity to understand how cities live and breathe in an entirely new way by integrating Aclima's mobile sensing platform with Google Maps and Street View cars" said Aclima CEO Davida Herzl. "With more than half of the world's population now living in cities, environmental health is becoming increasingly important to quality of life."
Check out the video below for more on the initiative.