Aclima is announcing that it plans to map air pollutants and greenhouse gases block-by-block throughout the San Francisco Bay Area region, which is home to 7.6 million people.
It is part of an effort to bring “hyper-local” air quality to the region, first by measuring local air quality data and then sharing that information publicly so action can be taken to reduce pollution.
The company is announcing today it is sending its fleet into Santa Clara County, at an event in San Francisco with various Bay Area officials who represent the nine-county region.
In mapping every block, Aclima is following in the footsteps of Google StreetView, where cars took pictures of every street by driving through every neighborhood. This kind of undertaking is just as big as StreetView if it were to cover the world, which is one of Aclima’s ambitions.
Air pollution and climate-changing emissions are causing widespread damage to human health, to our shared environment, and to our economies, Aclima CEO Davida Herzl wrote in a blog post.
“In our neighborhoods, levels of pollutants can be five to eight times higher from one end of a block to another. In order to diagnose and act on these hyperlocal air quality issues, we need to better understand what’s happening in the air around us,” she wrote.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District exists to assure that Bay Area residents breathe clean air, and it has partnered with Aclima to bring unprecedented visibility into air pollution and climate change emissions.
Aclima said it will deliver an in-depth, comprehensive picture of hyperlocal air quality in all nine counties of the Bay Area — covering more than 5,000 square miles. This is the first time a mobile environmental sensor network will be deployed across an entire metropolitan region, and Aclima will use this as a precedent for launching regional scale mapping around the world in the years to come.
Google has chosen Aclima as their global scaling partner, and Aclima will use Google StreetView cars for that project. But this program with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District is separate, and Aclima will use its own fleet of sensor-enabled cars.
The Air District has one of the most extensive air quality monitoring networks in the United States, with more than 30 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.
Over the next several years, the mobile sensing network will continuously map air pollutants and climate-changing emissions across the region, measuring and regularly refreshing baseline averages of block-by-block air quality.
Aclima is systematically gathering multiple samples day and night, weekdays and weekends, to create a rich, dense dataset from which to generate a clear picture of persistent levels of pollution and emissions sources. On every public street in the Bay Area over the course of a year, Aclima’s cars will be measuring air pollutants including PM 2.5, ozone, and nitrogen dioxide, as well as greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide and methane.
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, Jack Broadbent, executive director for the Air District, said in a statement. This will inform lawmakers in making decisions that protect the health of Bay Area residents, he said.
To support a wide range of efforts to reduce emissions and protect public health, the Air District has subscribed to Aclima Pro, a web-based application that makes the measurement data from Aclima’s environmental sensor network accessible for scientific analysis and decision support. This powerful new 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.
Aclima has been around for 10 years mapping air quality and analyzing it. During that time, Aclima has designed, built, and validated the hardware, software, and methodologies to deliver accurate, precise, and scientifically rigorous data. The resulting environmental intelligence informs action by governments, companies, researchers, and the public to reduce emissions and protect public health, at both the local and global level.
The company is expanding its fleet of drivers, hiring full-time drivers and driver coordinators throughout the Bay Area this year. The company is also hiring across the board, including for engineering, design, data science, business, and community engagement roles. Aclima has 50 employees.
Aclima has already 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. After today’s launch in Santa Clara County, Aclima will expand into Marin, Napa, Solano, and Sonoma counties.
This initiative broadens the reach and impact of previous efforts across California in West Oakland, San Francisco, and San Diego. Most recently, through Aclima’s work with West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project and the Rising Sun Center for Opportunity, the company generated and analyzed nearly 10 million data points on PM 2.5, ozone, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitric oxide, and nitrogen dioxide levels. Insights from Aclima are already helping support and assess the impact of the recently adopted West Oakland Community Action Plan, which defines a new model for community-centered emission reduction plans.
“To protect both human and planetary health, the time has come to take deep and systemic climate action, to design innovative policies, and to invent entirely new ways to understand and improve our environment,” Herzl wrote. “Through collaboration between local government, industry and community leaders, we can protect one of the most precious resources for life on Earth: the air we breathe.”