Good air quality in cities is a real challenge. Traffic, building sites, roadworks, rubbish trucks: the toxic particles that they generate all pose a serious health threat, and it's one that's invisible to the naked eye. Enter AirVisual.
DAVID HOLTAirVisual's smart air pollution monitors aim to raise awareness of air pollution levels and reduce our exposure to it.
Statistics on urban air pollution make for grim reading. According to the WHO, 80 per cent of urban dwellers are breathinh unhealthy air. Also, in 2012 alone, some seven million people died from exposure to air pollution, whether indoor or outdoor. It seems that in our increasingly urbanised world, most of us will find it hard to escape the toxic air trap.
Indeed, this is the issue that AirVisual wants to tackle - it's an online platform, air monitor and an app which aims to help us reduce our exposure to air pollution, whether in- or outdoor. Their motto?
“The first step to improving the air we breathe is knowing what we breathe, where it comes from and how it can be improved.”
Data is power: an online platform, an air monitor and an app
Founded in 2015, Air Visual offer anyone access to a global air quality database, which currently includes over 9000 cities. The platform collects weather, governments' air quality, and satellite data, and then crunches it to generate accurate and reliable 3 day air quality forecasts, including CO2 readings, as well as 2.5PM readings for six key pollutants - meaning readings of particulate part emissions (such as those from power plants) sized 2.5 micrometres or smaller, i.e. very much on the invisible scale of air pollution. A hazard for our throat and lungs, these particles' tiny size means they can also enter our bloodstream directly from our lungs.
A separate air quality monitor, the AirVisual Node, is designed not just to provide readings of indoor and outdoor air pollution in real-time - it also provides alerts when the air quality is failing to meet standards, and with an internet connection it can also collect and feed live readings into a global air quality map, an interactive tool also part of the AirVisual smart-technology palette. The monitor currently retails at 269 EUR, so it may not be for everyone's pocket - of course the hope is that with time the price will come down.
Lastly the free AirVisual app is able to monitor and track of air pollution both indoor and outdoor, air quality and weather forecasting, plus it contains also a host of additional resources such as health recommendations, air pollution and research news, and access to the global air quality map.
All in all, the aim of AirVisual is as clear as it is important: to give more and more people real-time data about the air we breathe (which we can no longer take for granted), and to empower us to take action to reduce or prevent air pollution and its hazards in our communities.