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A commercial platform providing operational Air Quality services using EO data

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - AirQast (A commercial platform providing operational Air Quality services using EO data)

Reporting period: 2017-11-01 to 2020-02-29

The key goal of AirQast is to establish a commercially sustainable business for delivering unique air quality data products derived from the European Union’s Earth Observation data that can exploit market opportunities, initially across Europe, China and India. To achieve this, the AirQast operational platform has been crucial to facilitate access to the following services, categorized into four main application areas:

- EMISSIONS. Monthly, worldwide satellite-based emission inventories at 1 km resolution.
- FORECAST. World-class hourly air quality forecast, 3 days in advance.
- RETINA. Near-real-time monitoring and 3-day forecast, at street-level resolution.
- ATMO-PLAN. ATMO-Plan supports urban air quality plans and designing Low –Emissions Zones.
Emissions inventory from satellites
Throughout AirQast, we have built upon the existing methodologies and introduced new algorithms, methodologies, and data to produce high value, new emission inventories from satellite data for China, and more recently for India and the Iberian Peninsula. These new products are now available for purchase and test within the AirQast platform. It consists of monthly-updated emission inventories of air pollutants’ emissions at standard (10km) and high resolution (1km). Historical data is also available on demand. Users in China, India, Spain and South Korea have tested sample datasets in their area of interest providing positive feedback and willingness to pay for the product.

Air quality forecast service. The AirQast forecasting system works on emission estimates from space and the refinement of these emission estimates by spatial downscaling and by source sector apportionment. A wide range of data is used from various satellite instruments. From these satellite data, emission estimates are made for anthropogenic and biogenic sources. With various state-of-the-art techniques, up-to-date emission inventories can be created. By combining these emission data with known information from the ground, a new emission database can be constructed.

Street-level monitoring in near-real time and 48h forecasts for urban areas: Lobelia-Air
The AirQast project enabled:
- The further development of the algorithm
- An in-depth validation of the approach
- An assessment of the added value of low-cost sensor data
- The development of a post-processing module in order to make the data attractive to users.

Supporting Urban Air Quality Plans: ATMO-Plans
Atmo-Plan is a user-friendly web application for assessing the impact of changing transport emissions on air quality at a high spatial resolution. Thanks to the integration of a precompiled database of traffic intensity estimates and the CAMS regional reanalysis dataset, traffic emission scenarios can be performed for any city across the EU-28.
- Two commercial contracts have been signed in Europe and Asia and others are under negotiation.
- Some very promising concrete leads for ATMO-Plan. Furthermore, the business case tests and demonstrations have provided clarity and direction to the business model.
- Significant market intelligence on the Asian air quality information market, which will guide AirQast SMEs to enter this market.
- Interest in satellite-based emission inventories in various countries inside and outside Europe.
- High traffic in our website.
- Relationships built with Asian and European stakeholders, and awareness raised of AirQast and the European companies and products behind the brand.
- Valuable feedback from test users in each of the geographical regions on the value of each of the services and products as input to a final business plan for each of these services or combined.
- A successful collaboration between KNMI’s lean product development team and isardSAT’s spin off Lobelia Earth in Barcelona for exploiting the needs of hyperlocal air quality data.

Access to scientifically sound air quality information is a major step towards effective decision-making and can help society to shift towards clean energy and sustainable mobility. Our tools have a socio-economic impact into populations exposed to high levels of pollution. It is the case of South Korea, where having improved extended forecasts helps authorities to prepare and plan ahead episodes of high pollution. It is also the case of the updated emissions inventory used in China, that can show the real impact of the lockdown measures in air quality in the country, and of the analysis made by cities such as Lisbon of the vehicle fleet in the design of upcoming regulation measures with the scenario-based software of ATMO-plan.

A practical end-to-end example of the socio-economic impact of AirQast is found on our near-real-time analysis in high resolution, as it informs citizens about the air pollution levels but also about the contribution of road traffic and energy emissions to the air we breathe at our doorstep or on the way to drop-off our kids at school or kindergarten, triggering a behavioural change in society as well as a wider acceptance of environmental regulations thanks to information.
In this regard, Lobelia and KNMI decided to open up a NO2 reanalysis dataset for 2018 to anyone interested under the Open Database License (ODbL). It consisted of a citywide, year-long, hourly, street-level resolution dataset for Barcelona published in open access and freely available to download in November 2019.

Barcelona NO2 reanalysis dataset for 2018 >
Lobelia was a pioneer in sharing a dataset of these characteristics, which was really well received by the expert community and civil society.
The 2018 dataset was used by the local network organisation Eixample Respira, which advocates for better urban air quality. This root-based organisation exploited the dataset to produce a ranking of the most polluted schools in Barcelona in 2018 according to their annual NO2 average concentrations during school hours. The ranking showed that 30% of schools in Barcelona were above the WHO annual limit values.
The release of this ranking in November 2019 ignited an interest in air quality among citizens never seen before in Barcelona, including hundreds of parent–teacher associations, increasing the traffic on our website and our exposure on TV, radio, press, and social media. Ultimately, this had an impact on Barcelona’s air quality action plan, as it is now considering a signed petition to the Mayor from over a hundred schools requesting a drastic reduction of traffic around schools as well as the promotion of public transport, which is now driving change.
AirQast _Emissions
AirQast_Forecast
AirQast Retina Product Lobelia Air