About 90 percent of people in the world breathe polluted air. While many of those most affected by this danger live in developing countries, major cities in the west, like London, also have many citizens ill or impaired as a result of lack of clean air. The capital of the United Kingdom, although actively working to improve air quality, is still above the limit for pollution set by the European Union. To combat this problem, London is turning to an unexpected source of help: the Internet of Things.

How IoT Can Help With Air Pollution

To tackle London’s air pollution problem, a new initiative called Breathe London has been launched. The project is shared by the Mayor of London, the Environmental Defense Fund Europe (EDFE), and Google Earth Outreach.

Breathe London uses IoT to investigate and understand air quality trends and challenges in the city. Sensors placed all over the city will measure air quality regularly, while mobile sensors like those included on Google Street View cars will supplement the information.

Using IoT and smart data, researchers will be able to publicly share interactive information about air quality as well as gain insight into causes of pollution. This will help London determine what will be effective in improving air quality.

Using New Sensor Tech to Understand Air Quality Challenges

The EDFE and Google Earth Outreach are partnering with cities other than London as well. For example, in the U.S., both Oakland and Houston were locations for pioneering IoT as a tool in the fight for cleaner air. This pioneer work revealed that air pollution can vary extensively even in small, close places. Insights like these are helping with the creation of laws regarding emissions and other potential pollutants.

How IoT Helps People Breathe Better in Real Time

Besides being useful for insight into air quality issues and locations facing the most pollution, IoT is also useful for real-time insight. During California’s recent wildfire outbreak, for instance, local citizens needed to know at any minute whether or not it was safe to breathe outside air. Since most common weather apps are not tracking air-quality in real time, Purpleair.com used IoT to compile data from individual sensors to give more convenient, up-to-date readings.

As more people, companies and governments recognize the importance of being able to access real-time air quality data, it is expected that more devices and everyday technologies will have IoT integrated for this purpose. Wearable technology for example may have embedded IoT for measuring air quality in the future.

Other Technologies Improving Air Quality Around the World

Interesting Engineering reports that one trend in the fight for cleaner air is to educate and empower local citizens. Friends of the Earth for example lets citizens test their own air quality using simple kits. Some countries, like China, are using technology to weave living plants into architecture. China is also going to be home to a skyscraper that functions as a giant air purifier. Innovations like these are making efforts to improve air quality around the world smarter and more effective.

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