Google partners with Aclima to map air quality with Street View cars

Google's Street View cars are great at providing detailed maps and imagery of roads and intersections, but what if they could collect more data to add to their maps, like the quality of air in an area? That's just what Aclima hopes to achieve, as they've just announced a partnership with Google that will put their environmental sensors on a handful of Street View cars in a new pilot program aimed at improving pollution awareness.

The test began about a month ago, so there's no firm plans yet on what will happen with the environmental data, but one hope is that it can be added to Google's maps, letting people easily see the quality of air in their neighborhood. This would not only allow people to know where and when to avoid going out for some "fresh air," but also bring attention to areas where more clean-up efforts are needed.

The initial trial has seen three Street View vehicles driving around Denver with sensors that measure air pollutants including carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, methane, black carbon, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). In that short period of time, 750 hours of driving resulted in the collection of 150 million data points.

Aclima and Google have even received assistance from the US's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), who add that their eager to see where the project goes and how the data can be used. Testing will move to San Francisco this Fall, with input being gathered from both scientists and local communities on ways the air quality information can be put to good use.