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article imageGoogle maps street-level pollution in major California areas

By Karen Graham     Nov 8, 2017 in Technology
Two of Google's Street View cars have completed a street-level, air-quality scan of the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and California's Central Valley.
Google has been mapping air quality with Street View cars since 2014. And the datasets they have compiled has proven to be very useful. One useful dataset is air pollution data, which contains much-needed information that can help us understand how to live healthier lives, build smarter and more sustainable cities, and reduce climate-changing greenhouse gases in both urban and rural areas.
Over the course of two years, from 2015 to 2017, Google partnered up with environmental intelligence company Aclima, mapping air pollution throughout California using Google Street View cars outfitted with Aclima's environmental sensing platform.
Google s Street View car
Google's Street View car
Google
The two vehicles covered over 100,000 miles with over 4,000 hours collecting data in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and California’s Central Valley. By crisscrossing the main arteries, busy intersections, and neighborhood streets, the team was able to see how pollution levels change throughout a city over the course of a day, weeks, and months.
The results of this study were published in June of this year, but Google wants to allow individual scientists to apply for access to the Google Maps air-quality data. The release coincides with this week's COP23 UN Climate Change Conference.
"At this early stage of our experimental project, our goal is to make this data as accessible as possible to help the scientific and academic communities. However, we may use some discretion as to its wide distribution to safeguard against misinterpretation of data analysis and interpretation," Google notes on the application page, according to ZD Net.
Visualization of polluting gas levels.
Visualization of polluting gas levels.
Google
A huge pile of data collected
This study added to the 2014 project with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to map methane leaks in California, Now, with the two studies together, to date, Google and Aclima have over one billion environmental data points covering more than 100,000 miles about some of the largest metropolitan areas in California. Together, Google and Aclima are bringing a new class of tools to transform how we manage natural resources.
Aclima’s mobile sensing platform measured black carbon particles (BC), nitrogen oxide, and nitrogen dioxide. Getting all this data was made possible by Aclima's sensing platform in the cars that integrate sensing hardware, data management and computation, quality control, and visualization functions, facilitating extensive, routine measurements. The system continuously streams data to Aclima’s cloud-based data processing and storage system where data is aggregated and analyzed.
There is also an on-board geospatial data management system that digitalizes and visualizes each air sample. All this, plus an extensive network management system, allows scientists and engineers at the University of Texas, Austin and Aclima to monitor conditions in real-time.
More about goodle, aclima, Air quality, Sensors, Technology