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Each day everyone breaths in and out approximately 20,000 times – at the same time industries, combustion engines and chimneys constantly pollute our air. An urban air quality platform is an air-quality-sensing network, which allows citizens to access hyperlocal data about local emissions, such as ozone, particulate matter, nitric oxides, carbon monoxide and ammonia. Moreover, data on air quality, on the weather or traffic can be also added. 
The sensors collecting the data can be installed either by an operator, e.g. the municipality or on private property. Citizens’ participation in the implementation process allows a faster and agiler project development cycle. 
To inform citizens about the local urban air pollution a platform as well additional notifications are possible. Additional suggestions on behavioural changes can enable the citizens to lessen their own impact on the urban air pollutants. 
The mandatory and additional functions of the system are shown below. The impact of it varies depending on the functions implemented. Regarding the benefits of the solution, this is evident. The benefits, which can be achieved by a system containing all additional functions below, are shown as potential benefits whereas the general benefits can be reached by implementing the mandatory functions only.

The main goal of the Urban Air Quality Plaform is to raise awereness on the Urban Air Quality. Thereby, it intends to initiate actions fighting pollution. Whereas some benefits are likely to be fulfiled with a basic implementation of the solution, the fulfilment of the potential benefits depends on the functions implemented in a specific project.

Main Benefits

  • Enhanced data collection

Functions help you to understand what the products can do for you and which ones will help you achieve your goals.
Each solution has at least one mandatory function, which is needed to achieve the basic purpose of the solution, and several additional functions, which are features that can be added to provide additional benefits.

Mandatory Functions

    collecting data on local air quality


    Products as sensors collecting data on local air quality sensors

    informing citizens about air quality


    Products informing citizens about local or hyperlocal air quality, such as an App or a website

Potential Functions

    giving suggestion on behavioural changes
    enabling citizen participation

Business Model

Implementation Facts

Average Implementation Time: 0,5 - 1 years

Initial Investment Amount: less than 50,000 € for an urban district

 

Market Overview

The air quality monitoring market is expected to grow with an estimated compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.5 percent over the forecast period of 2016 to 2021. Consequently, by 2021 a global market volume of USD 5.64 Billion will be reached. (markets and markets, 2016)

The global air quality monitoring market is divided into two major categories, namely, indoor and outdoor monitors. The urban air quality platform is a system of outdoor monitors. These can be further classified into fixed, portable, dust, and particulate monitors and air quality monitoring stations. 

 

Costs

Current developments in air quality sensors decreased the costs of an urban air quality platform significantly. Anyway, both installation costs, as well as operating costs, need to be considered. Traditional air quality monitoring stations require extensive calibration and maintenance. New technologies remove most of the need for local maintenance and calibration, moving these functions to the cloud. Therefore, operating costs of these kinds of platforms include the IT infrastructure (e.g. the citizen portal).

The awareness of citizens and the groundwork for reactions, that can be achieved by an urban air quality system is necessary considering the current impact of air pollution in cities.

Impacts of Air Pollution:

1) 1 in 8 deaths globally is attributable to air pollution. The number of deaths due to outdoor air pollution is steadily increasing, as the following graphic shows. (World Bank, 2016)

 

(World Bank, 2013)

2) 92 percent of the global population lived in areas where the pollution exceeded the world health organization’s air quality guidelines. (World Bank, 2016)

(World Bank, 2013)

3) The effects of air quality on people cost global economy 225 billion USD in 2013.

(World Bank, 2013)

 

Causes of indoor air pollution:

While the causes for outdoor air pollution are broadly discussed, the causes of indoor air pollution are less well-known and especially in private homes less regulated. Anyhow, we spend most of our time inside. The importance of reducing indoor air pollution cannot be denied. The following graphics from the European Environmental Agency shows some of the most common causes of indoor air pollution. 

 

 

Driving Factors

Government Initiatives

Within the European Union, the air quality monitoring market is mainly supported by the European Research Arena. Considering the topic of air quality monitoring, this network intends to research on new detection paradigm based on sensing technologies at low cost for Air Quality Control (AQC). Additionally, an interdisciplinary top-level coordinated network I set up to define innovative approaches in sensor nanomaterials, gas sensors and devices, wireless sensor-systems, distributed computing, methods, models, standards and protocols for environmental sustainability. (European Cooperation on Science and Technology, 2011)

Legal Requirements

Regulations

Air pollution has been one of Europe's main political concerns since the late 1970s. European Union policy on air quality aims to develop and implement appropriate instruments to improve air quality.

Therefore, European States have to divide their territory into a number of zones and agglomerations. In these zones and agglomerations, the Member States need to undertake assessments of air pollution levels using measurements, modelling and other empirical techniques – and report air quality data to the European Commission accordingly. The EC sets target values (graphic below). In order to match these targets, Member States prepare an air quality plan or programme to address the sources responsibly and so ensure compliance with the limit value before the date when the limit value formally enters into force. In addition, information on air quality should be disseminated to the public. (European Commission, 2018)

An Urban Air Quality Platform can fulfil these tasks at least partly.

  • Air Quality Framework Directive 96/62/EC: The following table shows the critical concentration of some air pollutants in ambient air defined by the European Commission.

(European Commission, 2017)

  •  Other relevant regulations are the European calibration regulations

Use Cases

Mobile air pollution monitoring on buses
Urban air pollution is hyper-local. Deadly air pollution varies more than 8x within 200 meters, which is however not reflected on current air pollution maps. AirVeraCity provides people actionable air quality information by accurately measuring air pollution from a mobile platform.

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