How Smart Cities Can Leverage Data Technology to Improve Air Quality

Big data is helping smart cities identify solutions to pressing environmental concerns, such as poor air quality.
big data can help smart cities improve air quality
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Big data has led to some very important changes in our lives. However, few people realize that data technology is helping solve environmental issues.

One of the most stunning facts revealed by the new coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has been our acceptance of polluted air. Skies in the world’s largest cities turned a color that astonished many residents when personal vehicle miles plummeted dramatically. At the same time, scientists discovered that poor air quality might raise coronavirus susceptibility.

Big data technology has helped us make these findings. It will also help develop solutions.

These findings underscore how years of awareness-raising about the dangers of climate change have turned into action to protect public health. It also reveals how little we still understand about how our air quality affects our health. In the wake of the pandemic, it is more important than ever to invest in research to improve our understanding of the link between air quality and health so that we can take steps to protect ourselves from future pandemics.

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Now that some parts of the world are starting to look like they did before the lockdown, people are talking about trying to keep this improvement in air quality. Lots of people want better air quality, so cities might need better data on air quality to make new decisions about policy.

Fortunately, the past five years have seen significant progress in air quality monitoring for smart cities. Big data is going to make or break smart cities and it can help solve environmental challenges they face. Smart cities should follow the guidelines outlined below when capturing air quality data:

1. Increase data resolution

In order to improve air quality, cities need to have better data resolution. This means that cities need to measure the air quality at many different locations instead of just a few. This is important because the concentrations of pollutants can vary a lot from one place to another in a city.

For years, the only way to measure air quality was to take samples of the air and send them to a laboratory for analysis. However, this process was slow and expensive. In recent years, sensors that can measure air quality in real-time have been developed. These sensors are typically small and portable, making them easy to use in a variety of settings. In addition, they are relatively inexpensive, making them a valuable tool for monitoring air quality.

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While many cities rely on physically deployed sensors to collect data, there are other options available that come with their own advantages and disadvantages. One option is mobile surveying, which can provide a much larger albeit less complete profile over time. These surveys usually involve the use of car-mounted sensors, but some cities are breaking the trend by using municipal trucks, drones, and bike-share bikes for mobile surveying.

As cities wrestle with the problem of air pollution, some are looking to cutting-edge technology for help. Air quality sensors are becoming increasingly commonplace, providing valuable data on local conditions. However, these sensors can only cover a limited area, leaving gaps in the data. Environmental data companies are now using fluid dynamics models to fill in these gaps and predict air quality for any point. This method is still in its infancy, and there are concerns about its accuracy. However, it is an inexpensive option that could be used in conjunction with other methods to improve air quality data.

2. Measure ROI of air quality sensors

Air quality monitoring is an important tool for cities to protect public health, but the question of how to pay for it can be difficult to answer. There are many different air quality measurement technologies available, and each has its own benefits and drawbacks. Some technologies are more expensive than others, but they may also be more accurate or provide more data. Ultimately, the decision of which technology to use depends on the specific needs of the city and the availability of funding. Here isa good guide on how to measure air quality.

There are many options for financing air quality monitoring projects, including grants, loans, and private investment. The best option for any given city will depend on the available resources and the level of need. Whatever the method of financing, it is important that cities invest in air quality monitoring to protect public health and improve air quality.

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ROI can be measured in different ways. One way is to look at the economic benefits that come from people not getting sick as often. This includes things like less time spent at the doctor or hospital, and less money spent on medicine. Another way to measure ROI is to look at how much air pollution costs our economy every year. Air pollution cost the US economy around $900 billion in 2019, equivalent to 5% of GDP.

Reducing air pollution could therefore have a significant positive impact on a city’s economy. In addition, improving air quality would also lead to better health outcomes for residents, which would also reduce healthcare costs. As cities continue to grapple with the effects of air pollution, it is important to consider both the human and economic costs of this public health crisis.

3. Explore new ways to put data to good use

Data from air quality sensors can be used in a number of innovative ways. For example, the city of Leeds in the U.K. has equipped its fleet of hybrid vehicles with quality sensing and geofencing technology. This allows the vehicles to automatically switch to electric-only mode when they enter areas with poor air quality. As a result, the city’s fleet of hybrid vehicles is able to significantly reduce emissions in areas where air pollution is a problem.

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Similarly, cities can use data from their air quality sensor network to map hot spots of fine particulate matter. They can then work with residents in these areas to identify sources of the pollution and develop strategies for reducing emissions. By finding innovative uses for data from air quality sensors, cities can take steps to improve air quality and protect public health.

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Olha Zhydik
Olha Zhydik is a Content Marketing Manager at ELEKS, a global custom software development company. Olha has been working in the IT industry for over 10 years, including 6 years in marketing. Thanks to her diverse experience, her writing offers a fresh perspective on how technology can help businesses not only innovatively solve problems but also gain a competitive edge. You can connect with Olha on Linkedin or Facebook.