There is some serious competition in the market of environmental monitoring and particularly in air quality. There are a lot of ambient air quality monitors available with great features and great sensors, the problem is that society doesn’t benefit from the variability of monitors because AQ data are scattered in different platforms/maps. It is hard for end-users and citizens to find which monitor is active and where (especially if you move). Someone needs to gather low-cost AQ data from everywhere and offer it to users in easy service.
Last year, on my trip across Europe, I monitored air quality with a portable monitor, but I wanted to compare the data I got against the official or other low-cost monitors out there. It was impossible!
The openaq team is doing just that. They are gathering data from official and low-cost sensors (stationary and mobile). Unfortunately, even today I cannot access data from specific low-cost monitors that take advantage of the API and their open map.
This are the brands that collaborate and they provide data to openaq:
- Aerosol Dynamics
- Droplet Measurement Technologies
- Eco Physics AG
- Environmental Instruments Ltd
- Magee Scientific
- Massachussets Institute of Technology
- Teledyne API
- Teledyne Inc.
- Thermo Fisher and Scientific
- University of California, Berkeley
I am certain that more funding is needed and more companies need to join their effort. Once the webpage and all data are available, a mobile phone application is needed. With the right marketing team, this app could become viral. I wouldn’t hesitate to create different subscription tiers for the app that will offer some extra features to those that want a customization of notifications, appearance, and deeper data analysis. We could even offer the ability to sell big data sets to researchers like universities and governments and share revenue across all parties from the app developer to the owner of the monitor that collected the data in the first place. Hey! When it comes to technology and data, imagination is the limit.
We may have thousand, or million, or billion data entries with good air quality data from all around the world, but what is the point of keeping them stored in serves and collecting digital dust? Democratizing Air Quality data is important, and in order to do that, we need to access them easily.