In an effort to expand its data offerings, search giant Google has collaborated with Aclima, a California-based environment sensory network, to integrate environmental sensors into its Street View cars. After a successful month long test on trial vehicles in Denver’s city streets, and clocking over 750 hours of drive time, the partnership sailed forward towards it goal of better understanding air quality in metropolitan environments.
Google’s Street View platform has shown its users the world on the streets, across forests, over mountaintops, and even underwater in 360 degrees since it’s introduction in 2007. Its latest project aims to provide useful data on the quality and consistency of the air we breathe.
The goal of the collaboration is to create high-resolution maps that will have the ability to read air quality across cities. The Street View cars that have mapped and measured the world’s streets, will soon be equipped with sensors that will allow them to take measurements of environmental gasses that have a harmful impact on health, including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, methane, black carbon and more.
"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."
In combination with air quality measurements from the US Environmental Protection Agency’s network of stationary monitoring equipment, the Street View readings will take on a new environmental mission in street level awareness of pollution in urban air. This data will initiate an entire new genre of analysis and dialogue on the condition of inner-city air quality.
Google and Aclima have set the stage for continuous collaboration with scientists and the urban communities they track to make substantial use of the new data collected as they begin the air quality mapping effort in the San Francisco Bay Area this fall.