Air quality: an urban challenge on many scales
Currently more people live in urban areas than ever before, and since 2007 the global urban population exceeds the global rural population and is still growing. These growing urban areas are increasingly vulnerable to air pollution and the compounding issues that result from air pollution. According to the WHO, more than 80% of people living in urban areas that actually monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels that exceed the World Health Organization (WHO) limits.
It is therefore clear that any system or service that wishes to address this urgent problem needs to account for large-scale effects, yet provide information on a useful urban scale.
Our solution: AIR-Portal
Given the challenges presented above, S[&]T together with KNMI have developed an Air Quality Dashboard for European cities, called AIR-Portal. AIR-Portal uses a custom-designed, local Air Quality Model that
combines remote sensing, land use, road and local monitoring data into air quality forecasts on city level at a usable level of 100x100 meter resolution throughout target cities. The forecasts can be used in decision making processes for the cities involved and to inform the public about air quality on a local scale.
The combination of global-scale and local effects enables AIR-Portal to address urban air quality issues on a global scale.
Users and their needs
AIR-Portal is aimed at three customer/user groups, which have the following needs:
- Regional governments and cities
a) Historic, current and forecasted air quality information;
b) Specific species (NO2, PM2.5, PM10, O3), and overall air quality index
c) Ability to analyze trends, statistics, etc.
d) Ability to assess measures aimed at improving air quality
e) Use AQ data/maps/graphs to inform citizens on air quality alerts and measures that will be
a) Current and expected air quality (general information, such as a general air quality index);
b) Local statistics on air quality (e.g. yearly averages);
3. 3rd parties using the data.
a) Provide data to clients, mostly as additional service.
The following end-users are connected to the project:
- Gemeente Eersel
- Airmine AS
- ARPAT (Environmental Agency of Tuscany)
AIR-Portal targets all European countries.
Service/ system concept
In the recently completed feasibility study AIR-Portal it has been shown that air quality in urban environments can be modelled and visualized using a combined processing of geo-information, available sensors, satellite data, road information and forecasting models.
Based on this, the system under development will provide a reliable, 24/7 operational service for displaying current air quality (NO2, PM2.5, PM10, O3, and Air Quality Index), as well as build a historic database and provide 3 day forecasts.
The AIR-Portal system will consist of:
- Data Portal (Historic, current, forecast data on air quality)
- Visualization and analysis tools (a progressive web app, suitable for computers and mobile devices)
The figure shows the main components of the AIR-Portal architecture. The system can roughly be divided into 4 layers: Data Ingestion (where CAMS and additional data are ingested), Processing (where ingested data are pre-processed and the scaling algorithms are applied), an orchestration layer, and the client access layer (which can either be the AIR-Portal progressive web app, or API data access).
Space Added Value
The main space asset used for the service is Earth Observation (EO). EO is the only sensor system that on a regular basis provides a true global coverage to measure the atmospheric conditions. EO data are incorporated in the system via the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS), which provides forecasts based on a combination of Earth Observation data and modelling, and the Copernicus Land Monitoring Service, which provides land use data for Europe. At the moment, the ESA satellites used in CAMS are the EUMETSAT satellites. Sentinel data is not yet in use, but the relevant Sentinel satellites for air quality will be the Sentinel 4, 5, and 5p. Using EO as a primary data source makes AIR-Portal less dependent on ground based infrastructure with respect to other air quality services, which are generally based on ground based measurements. This allows the system to be deployed and effective also in areas that have little ground based infrastructure.
GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) plays also a role in the service, since the service is aimed at providing people Air Quality information at their location. Currently the person’s location is used to assess their time zone, and show the correct data. In the future this may be extended with more location based services.
The AIR-Portal Feasibility study was successfully completed in April of 2017 and the current project is the Demonstration Project that followed from it.
The Demonstration project started in October 2017, and currently entering its verification and validation phase. There was some difficulty in engaging end users since often institutional (cities) customers have long decision and procurement processes. However, the new pilot end users were found, that are committed to the rest of the project.
During this phase, the developed system is being tested against the requirements, and the data quality is validated.
After this phase, the pilots with end-users will start.