In June of 2018, an air quality sensor in New Delhi, India, detected off-the-scale pollution levels of 999+ AQI. Schools closed and people had to remain indoors to ride out the worst of the pollution. While this level of air pollution involved a rare combination of variables, including agricultural practices and local festivities, the air quality in New Delhi had been quite bad for years and only getting worse.
Air Quality Data Localization
The first step in solving any problem is to understand the problem. To understand the problem of air pollution, we need accurate data to track it. While the Indian government does have air quality monitoring equipment set up around New Delhi, the city is very large and air quality within specific sections of the city may be different from others. In order to increase the granularity, or locality, of the data available, more monitors needed to be set up to track the varying pollution levels across the different parts of the city.
(A smoggy afternoon in New Delhi)
In response to this issue, Kaiterra began working on a project to get comprehensive data on the air quality conditions within the city. Our goal is to eventually have 50 monitors set up and operating around New Delhi. The data from these monitors would then be collected and made available on Kaiterra’s free app, with location-specific and real-time data available to its users.
The Benefits of More Data Points
By setting up these sensors, we are hoping more people will join the conversation on New Delhi’s air pollution and increase awareness about this serious issue. It would also benefit residents of New Delhi directly, as air quality can vary greatly in different spaces and at different times of day. For example, some locations in the city may face significantly higher levels of pollution than indicated by the overall level of pollution of the city at any given time. Having access to location-specific data will inform residents about the true level of pollution they are experiencing in their area and when to take protective measures.
Furthermore, the data points provide more information on the atmospheric conditions around the city and promote further study. Kaiterra has partnered with EPoD (Evidence for Policy Design, New Delhi) and the Harvard Kennedy School to equip them with air quality data for research purposes. This research could lead to a greater understanding of the causes and impacts of air pollution in New Delhi, as well as influence policy decision-making in India.
We are continuing to set up monitors across New Delhi so we can improve our understanding of the air quality conditions in this city. As we increase the number of monitors, the resolution of our air quality map will also improve and people will have access to better data coverage.