New air quality monitoring paradigm for Smart(er) Cities

Cities worldwide are seeking solutions to make their cities greener, healthier and more prosperous places to live and to mitigate climate change. Critical to this is ensuring that city air is clean, and that citizens, especially those with related health issues, can be informed and prepared for potential risks that can occur at a very local level.  To succeed, smart cities need access to comprehensive air quality data that can enable smart, timely decision making.

Compact sensor networks complement existing monitoring

Currently available reference-grade air quality monitoring stations provide accurate data, but the networks are sparse. New technologies make it possible to complement the existing measurements with compact air quality sensors. These new air quality sensors are easy to install on lamp poles, street lights or other city infrastructure. With these sensors it is economically feasible to construct dense supplementary air quality networks of tens or even hundreds of sensors in a city.

Hyperlocal air quality data provides new benefits

By combining the dense air quality measurement data with modern modeling tools, public authorities and the private sector can access high-resolution air quality data and forecasts. This data enables the creation of different value added services benefiting cities and ultimately public health. This new paradigm for air quality monitoring allows cities to achieve significant gains in areas such as:

  • Health: Clean air routing alerts and avoiding local hotspots of particulate matter and toxic gases drive down the exposure to poor air quality. This results in direct savings from healthcare (e.g. asthma and COPD) and insurance costs, lower risks for premature disability, increases life expectancy and improves quality of life.
  • Traffic management: Monitoring critical parameters such as PM2.5 and NO2 to verify the effectiveness of clean air zones. Re-routing traffic to limit and prevent creation of local traffic hotspots that breach set air quality limits.
  • Street cleaning: Effectively and cost efficiently mitigating street dust events, since street dust is a major source of PM10.
  • Infrastructure: Large residential, office and public complexes in cities are often located close to busy streets, motorways or other areas affected by polluted air. Air filtering and indoor air quality in these complexes can be optimized by taking into account local air quality.