Tech experts use Microsoft Azure to better understand urban air quality

Tech experts use Microsoft Azure to better understand urban air quality
AI for Earth programme is supporting the Berlin-based project called Airflow

Elly Yates-Roberts |

A group of German technology experts, including from automotive supplier WKW, are using the Microsoft Azure cloud to better understand urban air quality and help citizens make informed decisions. 

The project, called Airflow, was set up by WKW’s Lisa Bouikidou and Stefan Hackländer, industrial engineer Sebastian Windeck, data scientist Majid Mortazavi, technology consultant Günter Reuscher and innovation consultant Roland Heß at Microsoft Berlin’s and Fraunhofer CeRRI’s EarthLab. The aim was to provide a way to measure air quality throughout a city, rather than just at traffic lights and intersections in urban areas, which are fitted with fixed air quality stations. Airflow uses mobile sensors, which can be attached to taxis, buses, bicycles or even backpacks, to create a comprehensive picture of the air quality throughout the city. The data from the sensors will be stored in the Azure cloud, analysed using artificial intelligence (AI) and made available via an app.  

The app will then give users suggestions for the healthiest routes, as well as warnings of high air pollution on certain routes.

“In the first step, we are targeting consumers,” said Hackländer. “But in the medium term, we also want to fuel the political debate on air quality and have a solid basis for decision-making for urban planning.” 

Following the EarthLab, Airflow has been accepted into Microsoft’s AI for Earth programme. The team meets once a week through Microsoft Teams to discuss the next steps and share knowledge. It has also met with the Berlin public transportation authority, which has expressed interest in attaching the sensors to its buses. 

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