Sensor network gauges air quality in SF Bay region

Air pollution monitoring company Aclima is attempting to develop a comprehensive, mobile environmental sensor network that covers nine counties and over 5,000 square miles in the San Francisco Bay area.

According to company co-founder and CEO Davida Herzl in an article on the company’s website, the network is the largest mobile effort to obtain an in-depth, comprehensive picture of air quality across a metropolitan region.

Aclima is partnering with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which has over 30 air monitoring stations throughout the region. This new layer of Aclima hyperlocal air quality data will complement regulatory stations by accurately measuring and analyzing air quality at block-by-block resolution in the neighborhoods around and between these stations throughout the Bay Area.

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Herzl said that the mobile sensing network will map air pollutants and climate changing emissions across the region, measuring and regularly refreshing baseline averages of block-by-block air quality across a range of pollutants including PM 2.5, ozone, and nitrogen dioxide. Aclima will systematically gather multiple samples at varying times of day and night, on weekdays and weekends, to create a rich, dense dataset from which to generate a clear picture of persistent levels of pollution and emissions sources at unprecedented scale.

“This program will bring an unprecedented level of access and visibility to air quality data at the neighborhood level across the entire Bay Area region,” said Jack Broadbent, executive director for the Air District, in the article. “These innovative and powerful new tools will bring into focus the disparity of health impacts faced by many in the region and inform lawmakers to better guide the decision-making process to protect the health of all Bay Area residents.”

Aclima uses its Aclima Pro web-based application that makes the measurement data from the environmental sensor network accessible for scientific analysis and decision support. The tool identifies and diagnoses pollution hotspots, informs action, and measures the effectiveness of policies and interventions over time. To support public awareness, Aclima also makes address-based insights available to the public online.

According to Herzl, Aclima has begun mapping in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco and San Mateo counties, starting with the Richmond-San Pablo area which will have access to maps of block-by-block air quality early this year. Aclima recently launched mapping in Santa Clara County, and will shortly expand into Marin, Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties.