How cities can tackle air quality challenges

How Rybnik, Poland can tackle air quality challenges

In Poland, 33 of its cities rank among the 50 most polluted in Europe. The town of Rybnik in southwestern Poland, for example, ranks fourth on WHO’s list of most polluted cities in Europe, with air pollution being an issue for one-third of the year causing schools to close and more hospital visits linked to respiratory issues. The town is turning to educational campaigns to raise awareness among citizens, as well as investing in heating infrastructure, but this may not be enough to create real change in terms of improving air quality. As cities like this one strive to improve quality of life for citizens, transformative technology is key in offering smart solutions in the sectors that need it most, such as air quality affected by urban pollutants. Thanks to a new pollution sensor unveiled last month, cities may be able to measure and improve air quality in a quicker and more efficient fashion. Below, we’ll look into this smart solution and how it can have major benefits for Rybnik, as well as other cities across Europe.


A smarter weather tracker

Before a flood approaches, city officials, business owners and residents now have ample time to prepare thanks to technology that monitors rising water levels. Ultrasonic sensors and cameras track a river’s water level, processing the information and sending out an alert if it reaches the point of danger. With this type of technology, cities can track water levels and help reduce damage caused by flooding. German engineering company Bosch, which already launched a pilot project in Ludwigsburg, Germany on the Neckar river, is now working with a similar type of technology with sensors, providing automobile companies and city officials access to air quality data that can help reduce urban pollution. Dubbed the Bosch Climo, this new pollution sensor, developed in partnership with Intel, works as a microclimate monitoring system that quickly and accurately measures 12 of the most common air pollutants, including carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide. In addition, the system can provide data on environmental parameters like temperature, relative humidity, light, pressure and pollen. This technology was recently tested in Las Vegas showing real-time data of air quality in the city, but there are plans for it to roll out to other spots around Europe. As the pilot in Las Vegas proved, sensors garnering valuable data can help cities with future policy planning and real-life solutions to problems like traffic flow management, in addition to serving as a messaging system alerting citizens with tips and warnings on everything from fires to heavy pollen. The unit is also a cost-effective one since its 1/10th the cost of traditional air quality monitoring systems—and 1/100th the size.

As part of its plan to improve air quality, Rybnik is investing €17.8 million on subsidies for inhabitants and investments in infrastructure. But by installing a box like Climo, sensors set up throughout Rybnik could detect problems in a quicker fashion and offer up smarter solutions for long-term strategies. This type of compact and cost-efficient technology—which can withstand a variety of weather conditions—is simple to deploy, since it doesn’t require large infrastructure developments and can offer significant benefits for some of the most polluted parts of Europe.