In a new approach to measuring air quality in cities, environmental scientists are using specially equipped Google “Street View” mapping cars to measure air pollution in Oakland, Calif. The effort has created what they believe is the largest, most spatially precise sets of air pollution data ever assembled.
In a study published in Environmental Science and Technology in June, researchers from the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the University of Texas at Austin collaborated with Google as its Street View vehicles drove more than 14,000 miles of Oakland roads, taking three million unique measurements of dangerous pollutants such as nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide.
“The new mobile technology allows us to measure air pollution levels where people actually breathe the air—at street level,” Joshua Apte, a UT Austin assistant professor and lead author of the study, said in a statement.
EDF and its research partners have released the block-by-block air quality data in the form of interactive maps for use by regulators and residents. —M.C.