No can deny the facilities provided by Google Earth due to its wonderful features. Be it locating an area, measuring a distance, calculating area, recording a tour, adding image overlays or viewing layers like borders and labels, photos, roads, 3D building, ocean, weather, etc to name a few.
Mapping Air Pollution with New Mobile Sensors
On the other hand no one can deny the damages being caused by Air Pollution – which is increasing day by day. Keeping in consideration this vital problem Google has taken the job too serious and has joined hands with environment tech firm Aclima to measure the air pollution levels in California (currently) and the findings will then be mapped on Google Earth. Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Google Earth Outreach convened a mobile measurement team to assess air pollution at a level of detail that was nearly impossible before. This system of Mobile sensing offers block-by-block insight. Both the companies will work together to gather hyperlocal air quality data for the regions of the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Central Valley.
This project is part of EDF’s growing body of work to use sensor technology to advance our environmental mission. For this project, we convened a wide range of partners. Engineers from the University of Texas at Austin worked closely with Aclima to measure and analyze pollution data collected by Google Street View cars. These cars were deployed to areas of Oakland, California, where there are three stationary, regulatory-grade air quality monitors._ EDF Statement
What is NEW in this System of Mobile Sensing?
Traditionally, stationary air quality monitors provide most of the information we have about air quality. This new mobile methodology allows us to collect much more data, and to collect it at street levels, where people are actually breathing the air. While this data is not meant to be used to show compliance with air quality standards, rather currently, it helps us better understand where people are at the greatest risk from unhealthy air. The areas shown with the red are more susceptible to Air Pollution. These areas could be industrial areas, movement of heavy-duty diesel trucks or having heavy traffic or other such locations where there are more chances of pollutants.
The company says that so far it has registered over one billion air quality data points, but promises this is merely “the beginning.”
An Example of Mobile Sensing
On this map, the researchers highlighted spots that demonstrate how pockets of higher pollution can form. Many of these locations are near homes, schools and community centers. We collected data during the day on weekdays, and sampled each road an average of 30 times. _Courtesy: www.edf.org
This data not only gives more realistic information about a particular place as the data is being takes at Street Levels but also Google will also allow scientists to access all the data and help them with their research on Air pollution. The company also said that it will work further and the data will not stay limited to California.
Still it is not sure that what level of pollution or exposure time causes what risks to human health. As per EDF in future they will be working on this aspect and will soon come up with more results.
Some Concerns on Mobile Sensing and Street Level Data Mechanism
Now there are some genuine concerns since pollution is not a constant phenomenon and there are no barriers to stop or control it. How does this whole mechanism work and how they are going to justify the points they have taken? Yes it is acceptable for a very limited time but again can there be recommendations on the basis of these non-permanent points? Also since in west investments are being done on going to Electric or Solar like Tesla etc are doing miracles, so shouldn’t google, instead of investing huge sums on this and expanding it to larger scale, work on something else that should cope with the demands of present world like controlling of air pollution (as we already know it is a menace) or help those countries or states that are already suffering from it. Let’s see what Google thinks next!!
Here is a video showing how Google Street View cars equipped with Aclima’s environmental sensing platform measured black carbon, nitric oxide, and nitrogen dioxide. _Courtesy: www.edf.org