For few years now, Google was able to have eyes in our neighborhood thanks to the Google Street view cars.
The cars were equipped with lasers, GPS sensors and cameras in order to help Google Maps can show locations and panoramic views on all seven continents.
Now, a now collaboration between Google and Aclima, a company that builds environmental sensors, will turn the Google Street View car into pollution sniffers. And the best part is that the pollution sniffers are now mobile thanks to the cars.
Aclima has equipped several Google cars with environment sensors as Google is driving the cars around the streets to collect more data. Apart from collecting data for Google Maps, the cars can now map the air quality in urban areas.
The partnership was formally announced on Tuesday, but it goes and runs deeper. Google and Aclima started testing the technology back in August 2014 in Denver. The two companies equipped three cars to collect more than 150 million data points for air quality. During the test period, Google Street View cars clocked more than 750 hours of drive time. The two companies will again test the product in the Bay Area and the process should end this fall.
The technology that Aclima has provided to Google allows the Street View Cars to monitor and collect data for several pollutants including ozone, nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, black carbon, particulate matter, methane and VOCs. The sensors are placed in the back of the vehicles. The air samples travel to the sensors from a hole in the windows of the car. The air samples travel through a series of tubes. Apart from the air quality sensors, the cars are equipped with anemometers to help with tracking temperature and wind flow.
The project is also supported by the Environmental Protection Agency. The research director, Dan Cost, has qualified the partnership between Google and Aclima as the “obvious next step and a perfect way to move the science forward”. At the moment, EPA relies on stationary equipment in order to monitor air quality.
The hope by both Google and Aclima is that, one day the data will be accessible as easy as the weather is and that the users will be able to get the information on a daily basis.
Davida Herzl, Aclima’s CEO said that he believed that by partnering with Google, they both can make billions of smarter decisions that will lead to the change.
According to Herzl, this is the first time that we can have an understanding of what is happening in the environment. People will see a numerous benefits and one example, according to Karin Tuxen-Bettman, the person responsible in Google for the partnership, are the mothers of asthmatic children. According to Karin, mothers will be able to plan their day by using the information.