In the last few years, air pollution has become a growing problem. It affects the lives of almost all people and can no longer be ignored. Fortunately, new technologies are coming to rescue. IoT (Internet of Things) innovations offer new solutions that help monitor air quality and nowadays play a leading role in improving it.
Why do we need to take action: Air pollution in numbers
Air quality statistics are increasingly alarming. It translates not only into the environmental but also economic and sociological aspects. We stand at a point in history where action to improve air quality must be taken in order to save our planet.
- According to the latest WHO reports, as many as 9 out of 10 people on Earth breathe air that is harmful to their health. Annually, as many as 7 million people lose their lives to illnesses related to poor indoor and outdoor air quality.
- No surprise, according to a 2019 report by the European Environment Agency, almost all (98%) residents of EU cities face poor-quality air that negatively affects health. Moreover, by 2040, pollution from aviation is expected to increase by as much as 21%, further impacting CO2 emissions, especially in the urban area.
- If it comes to urban areas, statistics released by the United Nations show that currently 55% of the population resides in cities, but that number will increase to 68% by the year 2050. This will affect greenhouse gases increase, the formation of more smog, and the further acceleration of global warming.
All the numbers gathered clearly indicate that the authorities around the world need to take more drastic steps to improve the air quality. One of the ways is to turn to IoT-powered solutions that help to monitor the air quality effectively.
How can we use IoT solutions to reduce air pollution?
The first step to eliminating a problem is always to identify it accurately. Therefore, general awareness of environmental risks is not enough. It is necessary to carefully monitor the influence of various factors on the increase in air pollution. This is exactly how we can use IoT-led technologies.
It is also important to remember that air pollution is not just smog. These are the factors that influence environmental pollution the most:
- carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide
- particulate matter
- emissions of unhealthy gases
- UV radiation of the sun
Recognizing the major factors that pollute the air is a key to taking appropriate action. This is why it is becoming increasingly common to turn to IoT technologies. Below you can check the best advantages of this solution.
- Installation is not done on a mass scale and they are replacing old monitoring stations only gradually, but their deployment is done easy with a quick translation into significant benefits in obtaining precise indicators of high pollution. What’s more, thanks to their cloud connectivity, all indicators can be continuously compared and collected in one database.
- They are also significantly less expensive due to the fact that IoT technologies have evolved towards small low-cost mobile sensors. Moreover, they might be deployed at almost any point across the city, may it be a building, bus stop, park or a moving public transport. The latter is also a great perk, as IoT sensors can cover a big area in just one day of data collection, not to mention that they can greatly accelerate decision-making of city authorities.
- The last but not least, the advantage of IoT solutions is their transparency. The interconnectivity and fast access to the data can make citizens aware of the air quality by such user-friendly solutions as application or bus stop digital boards.
Top IoT air monitoring start-ups
Improving air quality is in everyone’s interest and luckily there are innovators with exciting new projects to monitor the air using IoT-led technology. Here are some of the most interesting examples of start-ups that have taken air quality monitoring into their own hands.
- Plume Labs (total funding: $6.1M)
Based in Paris, France, Plume Labs secured their position as a leader in air quality monitoring solutions back in 2014. They have made a name for themselves in the market primarily by selling small Flow sensors, which measure air quality in both households and urban spaces. The data collected from all the sensors is converted into full weather maps that governments and organizations can purchase for their own research. One of the most interesting features that Plume Labs offers is the ability to use AI-driven forecasting tools to predict pollution levels in certain areas.
- Aclima (total funding: $64M)
Founded in San Francisco, Aclima has designed a number of widely used sensors that retrieve information about various pollutants, but also weather information. Aclima allows measuring such indicators as noise, temperature, UV radiation and atmospheric pressure. A great advantage of Aclime’s solutions is that all data are collected in real-time and therefore enable very fast decision making. The start-up offers a wide range of product choices, both hardware and software.
- Breeze Technologies (total funding: €300K)
Based in Hamburg, Germany, Breeze Technologies has designed its IoT solution for detailed air pollution measurements. Using Breeze’s sensors, you get information on carbon, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particulate matter and many, many more. Breeze Technologies’ solutions and the reports they issue are particularly popular with governments and businesses. It offers access to an API that is strongly integrated with other solutions, such as building system management and making official information available to city residents.
The future of our planet is inextricably linked to improving our air quality. Fortunately, the companies listed above are only a few of many that are already active in this sector, and the new innovations are still more than welcome. Monitoring air quality can be the first step toward not only saving the environment but also minimizing the costs associated with it.