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Mapping air quality with high accuracy and high-spatial resolution

Periodic Reporting for period 4 - MappingAir (Mapping air quality with high accuracy and high-spatial resolution)

Reporting period: 2021-02-01 to 2021-06-30

Air pollution is related to cardiovascular diseases, strokes, respiratory diseases (e.g. lung cancer), childhood asthma and atopic dermatitis. Furthermore, it has a negative impact on neuropsychological development in children and in female/male fertility. According to a study undertaken by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, outdoor air pollution could cause 6 to 9 million premature deaths by 2060 at a world-wide level, doubling or tripling current figures, representing an economic cost of €2.3 trillion per year unless actions are taken.
Despite the negative impact on human health, the economy, and the environment, current air pollution monitoring stations in cities are spatially very limited due to the high capital cost per station, requiring civil works, and the associated operative annual cost. Consequently, a small number of expensive monitoring stations are installed in cities for collecting high-quality air data. These monitoring stations provide very accurate data but only for specific points, and they are designed for air quality regulation to check whether the city is fulfilling EC directives in terms of pollution. Nevertheless, these few points do not provide the real or complete picture of pollution behaviour.
There are several attempts to increase the density of monitoring points, but this kind of solutions either are not accurate, or are not scalable in terms of price, deployment and maintenance. On the other hand, the accuracy of low-cost sensors to measure air pollution are low because they are sensitive to several pollutants and to different factors such as temperature, relative humidity or sensibility degradation. Bettair® is a Platform as a Service (PaaS) that permits, for the first time, to map air pollution in cities on a previously unimaginable scale based on a large deployment of outstandingly accurate gas sensors by using an advanced post-processing algorithm. The determination and long-term vision of the Consortium are to be the market leaders at a worldwide level in exploiting an accurate and large-scale air quality monitoring platform that will allow reducing pollution in cities, and the individual exposure, thereby improving quality life immeasurably. In order to accomplish such an ambitious feat, first, it is necessary to bring the developed technology to the international market, from a prototype to a product, including several innovations.
Some of the world’s most polluted cities are in India, Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Turkey, etc. but nevertheless air pollution is also a very serious problem in Europe, and it is only expected to get worse due to urbanisation on a global scale. bettair® will permit cities to effectively mitigate air pollution, and this will have a tremendous impact on environmental and societal issues. In terms of human health and society, the direct benefits of improving the quality of life are remarkable considering that air pollution is the single largest environmental health risk in Europe.
The Fast Track to Innovation scheme is allowing the consortium to accelerate the market uptake of this disruptive technology for this incipient smart cities’ market thanks to the collaboration of two hard tech European SMEs (Bettair Cities and Omniflow) along with the smart city top vendor(CISCO), a large Service Provider (Telecom Italia), and a non-profit research centre for global health (ISGlobal).
A clearly defined work plan has been designed and divided into several Work Packages (WPs) and its associated tasks: In WP1, the prototype of the bettair® static nodes are becoming a market-ready product by being industrialised. In WP2, cutting-edge features are being added to the software platform, these include a super-high precision air quality map and an artificial intelligence module for deployment optimisation and mitigation actions recommender. In WP3, the bettair® static nodes and platform are being integrated into Omniled, an autonomous smart lighting system fully powered by sun and wind energy. In WP4, CISCO is working on their Kinetic for cities platform to be integrated with the bettair® core platform. The above-mentioned enhancements and implementations will be validated and tested in WP5/6 by means of two large-scale pilots deployed in two European big cities (already confirmed) and two other small pilots.
The conventional and expensive air quality monitoring stations used by cities do not provide enough spatial resolution in order to know how to mitigate pollution in cities. The cost of these stations is higher than €200k and, in addition, need civil works and continuous calibration carried out by experts with significant operative expenditures. This inhibits the feasibility of a large-scale network of these stations. These monitoring stations are designed just for air quality regulation but do not provide a real, detailed picture of an urban area at all. In some cities, the values provided by the stations are inserted in models in order to extrapolate and to draw a complete air quality map, like the one depicted in the image for Barcelona . This is just a rough estimation, far from reality. Another alternative used by municipalities who need more information (more reference points) is to temporarily install passive diffusive tubes. Tubes are deployed in cities for several weeks, and the samples are analysed in a laboratory in order to generate an average measurement. But the information is only an average, and it is not cost-effective.
After several years working closely Bettair Cities with high-tech sensor suppliers, a robust novel post-process algorithm has been implemented that increases the accuracy, reaching an outstanding accuracy level over 0.9 (Pearson Correlation, R2) or even higher depending on the gas. Accurate performance is essential for operating in urban scenarios for municipalities. Moreover, an end-to-end solution is offered, providing a Platform as a Service with specific GIS visualisation, offering precise heat maps and specific insights and recommendations for mitigating air pollution.
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