Google Street View car data gives researchers a microanalysis of air pollution

Google and Aclima, a company that maps ultra-local air pollution, announced today (June 25 local time) that researchers can now get the valuable new data they need to support climate change responses and clean air purification,media reported. It is reported that all this is thanks to the four-year measurement of Google Street View cars equipped with Aclima sensors.

Google Street View car data gives researchers a microanalysis of air pollution

These data sets provide researchers with a close-up view of changes in air quality in each neighborhood. This includes more than 42 million measurements of smog, soot, black carbon, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide and methane. They can also zoom in to see the difference between one street and the other, which is key to determining where the pollution is most polluted and who is most affected.

Scientists and policymakers often look at air quality and greenhouse gas emissions in cities and even across the country. Equipment traditionally used to monitor pollution is expensive, fixed, and often limited to a large area of sensors. This ignores what happens at the micro level, leading to differences in the environment and health.

In response, Davida Herzl, co-founder and CEO of Aclima, points out: “At one end of the block, there may be only one pollution level, and at the other end it can be eight times higher.” These hot spots may last for years. (So) where you live is really important. “

The study found that people living in highly deprived areas or long-term living in isolation were more likely to live in air pollution and the negative health effects that followed. Herzl noted that the government needs to know where these pollution hotspots are in order to develop a fair response. Some of the data collected by Aclima and Google is known to have been used in a 2018 study of the relationship between street air quality and heart disease in Oakland, California. The study found that older people exposed to more air pollution from traffic had a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, and that the specific level of the risk varied from street to street.

Herzl argues that more data can expose environmental injustice, “if we don’t have data, we can’t see it, but it’s actually invisible.” “

Now, researchers can request free access to newly released data sets. Next, Google and Aclima plan to expand their data collection around the world, and this year they will begin deploying 50 new cars.