Improving citizens health by predicting outdoor air quality in urban areas

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The increasing focus on the health and well-being of citizens requires municipalities to consider how to best reduce or avoid atmospheric pollution and how to manage outdoor and indoor air quality. WHO data shows that 9 out of 10 people on our planet breathe air that contains high levels of pollutants. Updated estimations reveal a staggering number of deaths associated with breathing polluted air: more than 7 million people die each year prematurely due to air pollution.

Since 2019, Yodiwo together with the Institute of Chemical Engineering Sciences of the Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas at Patras and the Laboratory of Atmospheric Physics of the University of Patras are working to facilitate the integration of air pollution monitoring and air quality forecasting technologies and thus help policymakers implement cost-effective measures to improve air quality in urban areas.

The SmartAQM project  is funded by the Western Greece region and uses the city of Patras as the “laboratory” for the development and evaluation of the system. SmartAQM is a pilot application of an integrated smart city management environment. Based on cloud and IoT technologies, it aims to study, design, develop and evaluate an integrated intelligent technological environment to measure and forecast the concentrations of many gaseous pollutants as well as fine and coarse particulate matter together with its composition and size distribution.

Monitoring the current air quality and predicting the levels of air pollutants in the city at high spatial and temporal resolution, provides opportunities to both manage air pollution sources but also to change personal activities to reduce human exposure to high levels of harmful pollutants. This can identify problems and their sources, build trust and facilitate cooperation between citizens and authorities, and ultimately improve quality of life by reducing air pollution.

The involved parties designed, developed, and implemented an integrated intelligent Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) environment. The environment combines a state-of-the-art three-dimensional weather forecasting system with an atmospheric chemical transport model and advanced machine learning algorithms to forecast air quality. The computational part is then working together with sensor devices, measuring in real-time the concentrations of gaseous pollutants and particulate matter.

One of the project objectives is the development of algorithms to facilitate the study and analysis of a large volume of observations, to enable well-informed assessments of air quality and its effects on humans. These algorithms are based on forecasting models with high spatial resolution, taking into account heterogeneous data such as traffic, public transport routes, and locations of pollution sources.

As a result of this pilot study, the Region of Western Greece will have available a tool that can effectively contribute both to the understanding of the sources and processes related to air pollution build-up, and to ways to deal with them effectively, thus improving air quality and consequently human health and well-being. Even if the system will be initially tested in Patras, the significant acquired know-how will be directly applicable to other areas in Western Greece and even more importantly in other urban or even rural areas in the rest of Greece.

SmartAQM is an intelligent system that can strengthen the “Regional Green Economy” nationally but also Internationally, as this sector has huge growth potential, with solutions for air pollution at the heart of an ever-increasing demand worldwide. Up to now, our work has ensured the high quality of the gas and particulate matter measurements throughout the city of Patras. Continuous extensive simulation experiments based on the Weather Research and Forecast models, coupled with the state of the art PMCAMx Chemical Transport Model with a dynamic emissions model framework are conducted daily to provide a three-day forecast of air pollution on a pan-European scale including all of Greece (in coarse resolution) and for the Patras region (in high resolution in space and time). Moreover, those forecasts are coupled with the data collected by the deployed network of sensors and an innovative geostatic model to obtain air quality data at the neighborhood scale (a few hundred meters).

As next steps, we are planning to integrate the SmartAQM solution into the YodiCity environment and take advantage of the combination of data coming from various sources. With the use of our advanced ruling mechanism, the smart city administrator could, for example, avoid deploying waste truck collectors during adverse environmental conditions, prohibit open burning, alert sensitive groups on upcoming bad air quality and other applications.

Interested in discovering more about Air Quality SMART monitoring as well as other SMART City solutions? Book a call with us.

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