Google Street View project maps Air Quality in West Oakland

Published On June 13, 2017 | By Rob Arias | News & Commentary, Social Justice & Activism

Google, in partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), are sharing their initial results measuring air quality in the neighborhoods of West Oakland. This data is being collected using Aclima sensor technology mounted on Google Street View cars. West Oakland’s unique mix of industry and housing along with diesel traffic and proximity to major highway on-ramps makes it a unique study. Many of the locations mapped are near homes, schools and community centers.

The data is collected by the sensors mounted to the cars and then mapped to visualize concentrations of nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide and black carbon emissions. Conventionally, stationary air quality monitors have been used to monitor air quality in U.S. cities. This new mobile methodology allows them to collect more data, and to collect it at street level where people are actually breathing.

The visualizations show how pollution can change block by block. Higher concentrations, shown in burgundy, are shown where vehicles tend to accelerate more frequently among other factors.

This is one of the largest air quality datasets ever made available with nearly 3 million measurements and 14,000 miles captured in the course of a year. Google and will expand the to include Los Angeles, San Francisco, The Central Valley and other communities. Additional information on the science behind these maps is available on The Environmental Science & Technology website.

The scientific team included researchers from UT-Austin, Utrecht University, University of British Columbia, University of Washington, LBNL, The Environmental Defense Fund, Aclima Inc and The West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project.

The ambition of the project is to use the data to empower local communities with knowledge to influence the way that cities are built and ultimately reduce climate-changing greenhouse gases in areas where people live.

The interactive map can be viewed on the Environmental Defense Fund website and is filterable by nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide and black carbon emissions.

Researchers highlighted spots that demonstrate how pockets of higher pollution can form.

Further Reading

Mapping air pollution with Google Street View cars | Apte Research Group
Mapping air pollution with new mobile sensors | EDF.org
Let’s clear the air: mapping our environment for our health | Google’s “The Keyword” blog


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About The Author

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who moved to Emeryville in 2003. A new parent in the community, he can often be seen walking his French Bulldog rescue "Fiona" around his Park Avenue District neighborhood, traversing the greenway on his bike or enjoying his favorite Emeryville small businesses. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

3 Responses to Google Street View project maps Air Quality in West Oakland

  1. Baruch says:

    This is an amazing story about what’s happening with the air quality. Thank you for printing it.

  2. West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project is the local EJ community, that partner with, UT-Austin, Utrecht University, University of British Columbia, University of Washington, LBNL, The Environmental Defense Fund and Aclima, Inc and was not added to the article.

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