Industrial IoT: A Tool for Managing Air Pollution

October 11, 2019

According to the World Health Organization, 91% of the world’s population live in air pollution conditions that exceed the organization’s guidelines. Every year 4.2 million people die due to complications related to outdoor air pollution.

IoT Fights Air Pollution Worldwide

Cities around the world are using IIoT sensors to collect data on air quality. London’s “Breathe London” project installed sensors around the city in the hopes of improving health for its citizens. In 2014, Beijing began its own 10-year project. Chicago began its “Array of Things” project in 2016 to collect data not just on air quality but also on the city’s climate and noise.

Vehicle emissions are an obvious source of air pollution, and some European cities are considering free public transportation as a way to get individual vehicles off the road. Pittsburgh is installing sensors at major intersections to combat congestion (and reduce pollution from idle vehicles) by adjusting stop-and-go times in relation to the amount of traffic. City planners can also use IoT data to build new roads or change current traffic regulations in an effort to decrease congestion. Continued IIoT monitoring will allow city officials and researchers to see if efforts to combat air pollution have succeeded.

Advanced Technology to Detect Air Pollution

Advances in technology foresee the use of mobile apps where users can view pollution levels not just in sensor-equipped locations, but in the immediate area around them. They would also be able to map new routes, whether walking or driving, to avoid pollution hot spots. This type of technology would also allow users to view pollution levels inside their homes or work offices – reportedly worse than outdoor pollution – and make appropriate changes.

Drones are another tool being used to combat air pollution. Beijing has used drones to observe inspection-skirting factories. Turin, Italy, is using drones to inspect chimney smoke coming out of residential houses (their biggest pollutant contributors). Rice University, in Houston, is developing drones to identify harmful chemicals in the air that can be reported to residents and first responders.

Better Air Means Better, Longer Lives

Tackling the issue of air pollution has many benefits in addition to longer life expectancy. Having clean air to breath can relieve the symptoms of asthma and allergy sufferers. People living in clean air environments have fewer respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and lower risks of stroke or heart attack. This means lower medical costs for both people and the cities they live in. Breathing clean air can also improve mood, decrease anxiety and allow for improved sleep, energy and even digestion.

When it comes to better health, industrial IoT is a tool that can help identify sources or key problem areas, giving the government and individual residents the power to act so we can all breathe a little easier.