9 October 2018

UU is responsible for the technical and scientific support

Google Street View car starts measuring air quality in streets of Copenhagen

Picture: Bas Niemans, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

Today, a Google Street View car will begin operating in the streets of Copenhagen to measure the air quality of the city. Utrecht University is responsible for the technical and scientific support of the project.

A mother of an asthmatic child looking for the best way to get to the playground. Bike commuters and outdoor athletes finding the healthiest route for their trip. City planners with better knowledge to design smart solutions. And politicians better equipped for clean air decision making. These are the Copenhageners that will benefit the Google Air View project, which launches in Copenhagen through a partnership between the City of Copenhagen and Google. Utrecht University provides technical and scientific support.

 

"This wealth of data will help us to better understand what drives air quality"

Researchers of Utrecht University have developed advanced air quality equipment and have installed this on a Google Street View car, which will drive through public roads of the city through 2019, in order to build a hyper-local, block-by-block map of air quality. These results will be delivered to scientists, the City Council of Copenhagen, and, ultimately, to the public via interactive maps. 

Unprecedented resolution

“This collaboration is unique, because it allows us to use actual measurements at street level to map air pollution at an unprecedented resolution in an entire city", says Roel Vermeulen, Professor of Environmental Epidemiology and Exposome Science at Utrecht University. "This wealth of data will help us to better understand what drives air quality in Copenhagen and what improvements we can make”.

The current method involves taking a limited number of measuring points and using models to extrapolate the pollution data for the rest of the city. With Google Air View, we will be also able to perform actual measurements throughout the city in its entirety. The car will test the air for nitric oxide, particulates, soot and micro-particulates. "The measurement of ultra-fine particles has yet to be fully standardised, so that will be new information in any case. I would also like to study the effects of low concentrations of air pollution on public health. Not much is known about this, but the data from Google Air View will allow us to more effectively approach our research."

 

Exposome

At Utrecht University, research into the relationship between air quality and health is clustered in the Utrecht Exposome Hub, which is developing methods to map our living environment and study the influence of the living environment on our health, like air pollution.