How do Google's air quality maps help treat traffic pollution?


New air quality maps show that Copenhagen's main access roads have ultrafine particles, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and black carbon levels five times higher than quieter residential areas.

These ideas came from a project with Google and the University of Utrecht, in collaboration with Aarhus University, to collect data via a Google Street View vehicle equipped with advanced air quality measuring equipment.

A statement from the city of Copenhagen said, overall, air quality in Copenhagen has improved in recent years, but this trend does not appear to apply to motorways and major access roads, as measured by the NO2 measurements of the Google Street View vehicle. The concentration of ultrafine particles and soot also It's worse according to the approaches.

The initiative is part of the Google Project Air View project launched in 2015 and operating in cities including Auckland, Houston, London, and Amsterdam. Copenhagen was the first European city to join in 2018.

Over the past six years, Google has said that Street View vehicles have collected more than 100 million street-to-street air quality metrics. The data is fed into Google's free Environmental Statistics Explorer (EIE) tool to help cities reduce their emissions.

Excessive local data

More detailed insights and maps about air pollution are being used to help Copenhagen plan the most effective interventions, Copenhagen Technical and Environmental Mayor Nina Heidegger Olsen commented.

The differences are very clear and give us important insight into where we should focus our efforts to better plan the city in order to protect Copenhageners from dangerous particles.

This project is also the first time the city has been able to measure the concentration of ultrafine particles down to street level. These particles below 100 nanometers are not included in official statistics because the European Union has not set official limit values ​​for them, despite growing concerns about The risks they pose to health.

Furthermore, Street View vehicle measurements are sampled in the middle of the road compared to previously developed maps and measurements, which are often measured at the side of the road or at building facades.

The analysis also discovered significant nanoparticle emissions near the airport. The Westerbro area and city center have higher measured levels of air pollution than other parts of the city, which the municipality said could not be immediately explained by traffic alone.

Olsen said the municipality will use the results to pressure national politicians for more influence to reduce polluting cars in the city.

Kristiansborg should give us the tools we need to ensure the health of Copenhageners. Give us the opportunity to regulate traffic, not only on the basis of carbon dioxide emissions but also on the basis of the criteria on which the types of cars that emit the most harmful particles are based, referring to the possibility of Introducing a detailed pricing scheme for roads and expanding eco-zones to include private cars along with trucks and vans that are currently included.

Meanwhile, she said the focus will be on reducing vehicles and emissions through measures such as speeding down and fewer parking spaces, as well as pushing for more cycling and walking paths away from vehicular traffic and creating new daycare centers away from polluted roads.

EV in Dublin

Dublin is one of the latest cities to join Project Air View and is using Google's first Street View electric vehicle. The Jaguar I-PACE is equipped with Google Street View technology as well as Aclima's portable air sensing platform that can measure and analyze pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, oxide Nitrous, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, fine particles, and ozone.

Google plans to launch Air View initiatives in more cities and there is potential to expand its fleet of Street View electric vehicles, but the company has not shared any specific details.

Air quality insights from Project Air View will also be incorporated into a European Commission-funded European Expanse project, which is exploring how pollution affects health and how local air quality measurement efforts can help policy development.


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