5 June 2019

Africa: Google Offers New Treasure Trove of Air Quality Data to Researchers

Photo: Bindra/UNICEF
Children in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Nigeria pass in front of a flame fed by waste and rubber materials in order to make Kanda, a type of smoked meat, at an abattoir on October 24, 2016. The workers at the slaughterhouse use cow bones, rubber tyres, electric wires, aluminum cans and other waste to sustain the flames, making the fumes very dangerous to inhale.

Google has employed its network of street-view vehicles to also measure street-level air quality in recent years, through an initiative it calls "Project Air View." Today, it's making available to scientists and researcher organizations more of the resulting data from that ongoing initiative. The company is releasing an updated version of its air quality data set that includes information collected with partner Aclima's environmental sensors gathered between 2017 and 2018.

The combined data cache includes info from the SF Bay and San Joaquin Valley area, originally starting in 2016, along with the additional two years' worth of data for those areas as well as for other parts of California, and other major cities, including Houston, Salt Lake City, Copenhagen, London and Amsterdam.

All told, Google’s mapping data set for air quality now includes info covering more than 140,000 miles and 7,000 hours of combined driving time spanning 2016 through 2018. That’s a significant base upon which to build a study of the trajectory of air quality changes over time, and Google plans to not only continue this program, but expand it with additional coverage for more cities globally, including in Asia, Africa and South America.

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