Do you know what the air quality is in your city? Are you familiar with the daily peaks of pollution? What is the air quality compared to other cities in the world?
Today’s technology enables low-cost devices for air quality monitoring that communicate in real-time and use advanced data analysis systems that allow us to extract information and relevant correlations. Systems like these can answer the questions that we have posed above.
What is the quality of the air I am breathing?
Unfortunately, sensors in most of the cities today are not numerous enough to help us gather precise data about air quality in the area where we live, commute, jog, or perform any other activity. It is crucial to increase the number of sensors and to show the data in a way that can help us in our everyday life. PlanetWatch is working toward smartening our cities so that they can measure and show real-time information with which we can then make informed decisions.
The air quality monitoring networks that are spreading in our cities must be reliable, widespread, and economically sustainable, providing a pool of quality data sufficient to create interactive maps full of information for the community.
Describing the territory through data is a seemingly obvious topic, but it is enriched with meaning when it is achieved through a large number of devices installed in the field. Making a comparison with photography, today it is possible to “shoot” the temporal evolution of air pollution, even every minute, and not take just a few “snapshots”, represented by average daily values. If you or someone from your family has health issues and is sensitive to bad air quality, having real-time information about every part of the city you are in is essential, and will allow you to better plan your activities.
It is possible to create pollution maps by aggregating data gathered from monitoring devices installed on buses and analyzing the air quality data trend on the arterial streets of cities, depending on the time of day and traffic congestion.
Another interesting case would be to monitor the air quality in parks. We want to be sure that our children can play in parks or areas free of pollution, learn about air quality in school classrooms, and compare it to the data collected in playgrounds outdoors. This way, all communities using the parks will be informed about possible air pollution peaks and can decide if it is worthwhile to use these existing parks, or build new ones in areas where air quality is much better.
Data is crucial for making the best decisions. Advanced statistical analysis and specific correlations allow the observation of real-time dynamics and better evaluate the efficacy of the solutions introduced: assessing the benefits of new actions implemented is key in deciding which solutions to introduce, according to the problem that needs to be solved.
Finally, the data must be accessible to all. Communities need to know the data to make an effective change. Change is not possible without awareness and knowledge.
International monitoring networks must be created to educate about air quality. Air quality must become a standard for the protection of the planet and for the health of all of its ecosystems.
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