Alphabet Tasks Google Maps Street View Cars With Detecting Urban Pollution

The collected data can be viewed in an online map.

byAaron Brown|
Alphabet Tasks Google Maps Street View Cars With Detecting Urban Pollution

Google Maps Street View cars in Oakland, California have spent the past year collecting air pollution data on each street in the western city, Google announced in a blog post on Monday. And now, that data is available for viewing online. 

Google linked up with the Environmental Defense Fund and Aclima to collect the data. To collect the levels, Google mounted Aclima's sensor system on its Street View cars and funneled the data into an online map. The data-filled map, which can be found here, shows nitric oxide levels, nitrogen dioxide levels, and black carbon levels—three air contaminants that can have deleterious effects on human life.

The interactive Google map allows users to check the data by zooming in on individual blocks. In fact, it's pretty much just like normal Google Maps—but instead of traffic levels, it shows potentially harmful air levels. 

"With nearly 3 million measurements and 14,000 miles captured in the course of a year, this is one of the largest air quality datasets ever published, and demonstrates the potential of neighborhood-level air quality mapping," Google Earth Program Manager Karin Tuxen-Bettman wrote in a blog post. "This map makes the invisible, visible, so that we can breathe better and live healthier. It helps us understand how clean (or not clean) our air is, so that we can make changes to improve it."