Cars That Sniff Pollution to Map Air Quality in California
Vehicles travel on the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge in San Francisco, California. (Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

Cars That Sniff Pollution to Map Air Quality in California

(Bloomberg) -- It’s like Google Street View, but for mapping greenhouse gases and smog.

A fleet of sensor-loaded cars, deployed by California company Aclima Inc., will try to measure air pollution on every public street across the sprawling San Francisco Bay Area, an effort likely to take two years.

Local air quality regulators are paying Aclima $6 million for the project, which was announced Tuesday. They hope to see how levels of smog-forming pollutants, soot and greenhouse gases vary not just from city to city, but block by block. The results could help the Bay Area Air Quality Management District spot businesses violating their pollution permits, as well as set emission limits for new businesses.

“It’s designed to give a new level of visibility,” Davida Herzl, Aclima’s chief executive officer and co-founder, said in an interview. “This supports diagnosis -- they literally could not see this before -- and then intervention, so they can do something about the pollution.”

If the idea of gathering data at street level sounds Google-like, there’s good reason. The tech giant helped test and validate Aclima’s mobile sensors and has deployed them in some of its Street View cars.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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