Google is now measuring air quality on the streets of Dublin

10 May 2021

Google’s Street View car on the streets of Dublin. Image: Google

Dublin City Council is teaming up with the tech giant to get a ‘deeper understanding’ of air pollution at a local level.

Google and Dublin City Council are working together on a new initiative to measure air quality across the city.

The Air View Dublin partnership will see Google’s Street View car deployed around the city to measure air quality for one year, starting from today (10 May).

The initiative is being rolled out as part of the council’s Smart Dublin programme, and it has already been working with Google on ways to inform smart transit programmes with the goal of reducing emissions and increasing the use of cleaner modes of transport.

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Hazel Chu, said projects that leverage “innovation and forward thinking” can help when it comes to making informed decisions for a city and its inhabitants.

“Environmental air quality is an issue that affects everyone, especially people who live in cities, and I look forward to learning more about how our city lives and breathes,” she added.

This is the first time a Google Street View car has been used in Ireland to capture air pollution, in addition to capturing imagery for the company’s Maps app.

Google’s first electric Street View car, a Jaguar I-Pace, is being used for the project. It has been equipped with a specialised mobile air sensing platform that can measure and analyse nitrogen dioxide, nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, fine particulate matter and ozone.

These are all pollutants that at high levels can be harmful to the climate and to human health.

Maps of street-by-street air pollution will be developed by Google, along with air quality tech company Aclima and scientific research partners. These maps and air pollution insights will be available for use by city authorities and by the public.

“Air quality is a serious concern, especially for cities, but there is a gap in terms of localised data and insights available to decision makers,” said Paddy Flynn, vice-president of geo operations at Google.

“As part of this project, we’re using technology to capture this important data and make it accessible so that together with Dublin City Council, we can gain a deeper understanding of air pollution locally and provide important data to help drive solution planning.

“Mapping of street-by-street air pollution has never been captured or used in Ireland before, and our ultimate goal is that they will support new actions towards a cleaner, more sustainable Dublin.”

Sarah Harford was sub-editor of Silicon Republic