Google Maps build dataset on pollution levels across LA, San Francisco, California


Google has implemented its street view cars to scan the quality of air in the streets of San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and California’s Central Valley has been completed.

The street view vehicles equipped with mobile air quality sensors by firm known as Aclima. These sensors measured the levels of different polluting substances nitrogen dioxide, nitric oxide, ozone, black carbon, particulate matter, and methane. The street view cars covered 100,000 miles over 4,000 hours by collecting the data from sensors.

Google collected more than a billion data points. The dataset built on air quality test by Google, the Environmental Defense Fund, the University of Texas, and Aclima.

In fact, now scientists can apply to google maps for accessing the air quality data. The release coincides with this week’s COP23 UN Climate Change Conference.

Sensors to highlight pollution Hotspots at more granular Level

At this early stage of our experimental project, our goal is to make this data as accessible as possible to help the scientific and academic communities. However, we may use some discretion as to its wide distribution. To safeguard against misinterpretation of data analysis and interpretation, Google notes on the application page.

Despite, in Los Angeles, the project found that busy freeways, traffic on local streets, and weather patterns that blow pollution inland do affect air pollution levels. Though this finding seems fairly intuitive. Furthermore, the sensors are able to highlight pollution hotspots and nitrogen-dioxide levels at a more granular level. The Street View cars mapped this area over three months.

Google and Aclima mapped San Francisco Bay Area for two years, from Palo Alto to Santa Rosa. The visualization of nitrogen-dioxide levels shows which streets have the highest levels of pollution from major local sources. It include cars, trucks, construction equipment, refineries, and power plants.

In addition, the team found that in the Central Valley air pollution trapped between the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the coast. It created chronic ozone and particulate-matter levels that exceed public health standards.