Real-Time Sensors on Google Cars Offering Granular View of Environment

The use of real-time sensors and cloud computing is unlocking a wealth of new information about the environment.

At the San Francisco-based environmental startup Aclima, air quality is being measured at the street level. The company partnered with Google Earth Outreach to place Aclima’s mobile sensors in Google’s Street View cars.

The sensors in the Google cars complemented the Environmental Protection Agency’s air measurement networks with air quality information gleaned at the street level.

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” Aclima CEO Davida Herzl said during a June 6 talk at the California Energy Commission.

She discussed how her company’s sensor technology is used as an air pollution mapping tool.

“Last year the World Health Organization identified air pollution as the most serious environmental epidemic of our time on a scale that is fundamentally global, with nine out of ten people being exposed to air pollutants,” Herzl said.

Aclima recently received a grant from the California Air Resources Board to develop a community-based open portal to access information from their sensors. Its sensors are also filling in information gaps of stationary monitors that are used by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

That information addresses Assembly Bill 617 which mandates the monitoring of emissions and air pollutants by gathering and disseminating air monitoring data in impacted communities.

Aclima’s sensors offer more detailed resolution and a better price point per sensor than others on the market, Herzl said.

Aclima’s data is a subscription-based platform that enables access to a broader set of users in the private and public sector. Herzl aims for Aclima’s data to be used in real estate, education, and public policy.

The company’s approach is now getting noticed internationally. To date, it has received interest from Latin America and Asia, said Herzl.

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California Energy Commission

The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency created by the Legislature in 1974.
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