Ten years ago, I moved to Silicon Valley to start building Aclima, inspired by the stories of mission-driven and brilliant people coming together to solve the world’s hardest problems. Legendary companies like Fairchild Semiconductor and Xerox Parc, responsible for technology advancements that moved society forward by leaps and bounds, spoke to what was possible. I couldn’t imagine a more important problem than climate change. And I was convinced that the technology community had a big role to play in giving people the tools to understand and reduce emissions and their impacts on both human and planetary health.
As six of the largest 20 fires in California history poured smoke into the atmosphere in recent weeks, and new fires were sparked in Oregon and Washington, the skies over the Bay Area and beyond were blanketed in smoke and at times turned unnerving shades of orange. Reports of ash falling flooded social media as entire towns were evacuated due to the fires.
On August 16, 2020, more than 10,000 lightning strikes pummeled the Bay Area, sparking wildfires across the region. Twelve days later, two of the three largest fires ever recorded in California history are still burning. Aclima scientists analyzed both regulatory and Aclima data to identify patterns in the impacts of these lightning complex fires on air quality.
Aclima is now measuring air pollution and greenhouse gases block by block throughout Downtown Brooklyn and nearbypotential environmental justice communities, including portions of Clinton Hill, Gowanus, Red Hook, and Sunset Park. The below map outlines the areas where our mobile sensing fleet is measuring this summer.
Aclima’s roving sensor network has been measuring air pollution and greenhouse gases block by block, across portside and border communities in San Diego since March 2019. Today we releasedan online hyperlocal air quality reportsharing the seasonal averages for all measured pollutants for summer (June-September) and fall (September-December) 2019.
Early Tuesday morning in San Francisco, amassive five-alarm fireerupted in a building supply company according to the San Francisco Fire Department (SFFD). Smoke from the fire rose in a plume high above ground level and was blown northeastward by the winds aloft. Aclima’s network of mobile and stationary air quality sensors picked up the local spikes in fine particulate matter (PM₂.₅) in the hours after the fire began. We continued to see elevated PM₂.₅ levels — particularly in the East Bay — until the valiant and commendable people of the SFFD all but extinguished it midday. However, firefighters remain on the scene as the debris continues to burn.
Scientists from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Envair, and Aclima analyzed millions of block-by-block measurements (2016–2017) of air quality in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, and California’s Central Valley with Aclima sensing technology on Google Street View cars, and confirmed that air pollution can persistently vary by six to eight times from one block to another.
During her keynote atCollision from Hometoday, our co-founder and CEO Davida Herzl announced that Aclima and Google are making a massive air pollution dataset freely available to the scientific community. Over the course of four years, the two companies have together generated and aggregated more than 42 million hyperlocal air quality measurements throughout California.
New Senior Scientist to Advance Aclima Technology in Support of Health and Environmental Justice
Crystal Upperman, Ph.D., MPA, has joined Aclima as the new Senior Scientist to oversee the company’s efforts to integrate public health information and informed risk characterization into Aclima’s products. Her work will expand our capabilities to support customers’ environmental health, climate adaptation and mitigation efforts, and bring equity into decisionmaking.
Hyperlocal Air Pollution Mapping to Accelerate and Support Climate Action and Public Health Initiatives
Today we announced our plans to deploy our mobile air quality sensing fleet in New York for the first time. This summer in Brooklyn, we will generate and analyze millions of air pollution and greenhouse gas measurements, block by block, day and night, weekdays and weekends.
In February and March, physical distancing initiatives to slow the spread of COVID-19 resulted in reduced travel, which correlated with declines in air pollutant levels around the world. In April, however, we began to see an increase in air pollutants in parts of California, as measured by both regulatory monitors and Aclima’s mobile sensing network.
Californians have now been sheltering in place since March 20. While social distancing is slowing the spread of COVID-19, it’s also significantly reducing air pollutant and greenhouse gas levels across the state. Residents from San Diego to Sacramento are seeing clearer skies and breathing cleaner air, even in the center of cities that rarely experience a noticeable reduction in air pollution.
With the shelter-in-place order in the San Francisco Bay Area extending until at least May 1, millions of people continue to stay home to slow the spread of COVID-19. Just two weeks into what is now expected to last at least six weeks, there are indications that social distancing is indeed flattening the curve and slowing an influx of patients that might otherwise have overwhelmed Bay Area hospitals.
How efforts to flatten the curve of COVID-19 are reflected in air quality
With millions of people sheltering in place across the Bay Area, the daily ebb and flow of urban life has come to a sudden halt. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended many patterns and placed tremendous strain on medical, economic, political, and social systems. The corresponding drop in regional traffic, along with reduced industrial and commercial activity, has also led to a significant decline in air-polluting emissions. While images of empty freeways paint a surreal picture, they also give us an unprecedented glimpse into what happens to the air we breathe when we drastically and suddenly cut emissions.
Aclima measures air quality where people live, work, and spend time with friends and family. Our approach to air quality mapping provides visibility into people’s lived experience of pollution. This new picture of air quality illuminates how pollution impacts people’s health and lives in our communities.
At the Richmond-San Pablo AB 617 steering committee yesterday, we released an interactive report of hyperlocal, average air pollution in Richmond-San Pablo in the SF Bay Area, from August 1 through October 31, 2019, atinsights.aclima.io/richmond-san-pablo.
First-ever Mobile Environmental Sensor Network to Span an Entire Metropolitan Region, Covering 5,000 Square Miles in 9 Counties
Today, as we send the first of our mapping fleet into Santa Clara County, we reach a new milestone in our work mapping air pollutants and greenhouse gases block-by-block throughout the Bay Area to protect human health and the environment.
Working in partnership with key stakeholders, Aclima is delivering a groundbreaking air quality mapping program across La Paz, Baja California Sur — the first of its kind in all of Mexico. Since March 2019, Aclima has been measuring air pollution block-by-block at the ground level throughout the city of La Paz. Members of the Aclima team made a recent trip to the city to officially announce the project with support from the local government and community stakeholders, including the mayor of La Paz, Rubén Muñoz; Lucia Frausto of Cómo Vamos La Paz (CVLP), Frank Aguirre ofBCSicletos, and Israel Barreras ofCERCA.
This May, Aclima and San Diego Countyannounced a partnershipto bring hyper-local air quality data and insights to San Diego communities, regulators, and policymakers. Aclima’s air quality mapping and analysis platform provides next-generation diagnostics of critical air pollutants and greenhouse gases at block-by-block resolution. Today, we are giving the public visibility into air quality in their neighborhoodson our website. This is a first step towards making air pollution visible to San Diegans where they live, work, play and learn, so they can take action to improve air quality and protect their health.
As the world continues to set new records in global climate emissions, humanity is increasingly experiencing the personal health effects caused by polluted air. This year alone, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere exceeded 415 parts per million for thefirst time in human history, while anew global comprehensive reviewhas found evidence that air pollution affects every organ in the body at every stage of life.
From Los Angeles to the Bay Area, and California’s Central Valley, Aclima is helping to drive new policies and actions to improve air quality throughout California. Building on this momentum, we are happy to announce that San Diego County is working with Aclima to map hyper-local air quality in environmental justice communities to support monitoring and emissions reduction efforts outlined in AB 617, a law tackling California’s air quality concerns.
At Aclima, we’ve always been committed to the power of cooperation. Addressing the complex challenge of reducing air pollution and climate changing emissions, takes all of us. It requires collaboration across multiple stakeholders — locally with communities, across international players, and the private and public sectors. In that spirit of cooperation, we are excited to announce the next chapter in our long-term partnership with Google. Aclima is now a Google Cloud SaaS technology partner, unlocking the best of Aclima and Google for our customers. Together, we are bringing the Aclima Environmental Intelligence platform, powered by Google Cloud, to cities and governments, enabling bold action to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
Air pollution is a global challenge, often faced most acutely in Asia. The World Health Organization has estimated that 92% of the Asia Pacific population — about 4 billion people — are exposed to levels of air pollution that pose a significant risk to health. India and China are home to some of the world’s most polluted cities where the concentration of particulate matter often reaches hazardous levels; while Thailand recently became the focus of international attention as schools shut down in Bangkok due to toxic air.
As California experienced record-breaking wildfires devastating communities across the state, smoke from these fires blanketed hundreds of miles with choking air quality on par with, and at times worse than, the most polluted cities in the world like New Delhi and Mexico City.
Transformational changes are happening across the world and across all sectors as a result of technological innovation, new and creative policies and political will at all levels. States and regions, cities, businesses and investors are leading the charge on pushing down global emissions by 2020, setting the stage to reach net zero emissions by midcentury. — Global Climate Action Summit Website
Looking at two neighborhoods in a city, we see a common theme that may seem like common sense: busy streets produce more pollution. But we also see how freeway overpasses, busy intersections, and stop-and-go traffic on streets can contribute to pollution spikes.
The month or so between the U.S. Green Building Council’s annual Greenbuild Conference and the winter holidays is a good time to reflect on the buildings where we spend most of our time. With the onset of dark evenings and winter winds, we shift to spending even more time indoors and become aware of the critical role buildings play in protecting us from the elements. Despite our obvious human needs for warmth and light, other health-related dangers of spending long hours in sealed rooms are often harder to recognize. The high performance buildings community convened at this year’s Greenbuild to showcase new research on the effects of indoor environmental quality on health and to discuss strategies to improve occupant wellbeing and cognitive performance in the built environment.
At the world continues to warm, scientists agree that there will be greater risk for fires on nearly every continent. Higher overall temperatures indicate a greater probability of a fire starting, spreading, and ultimately intensifying. And with more fires, more carbon dioxide and smoke is emitted into the atmosphere, intensifying health problems.
No two cities are the same in terms of geography or air pollution sources. The air quality on any given day changes as often as the weather, and can vary block-by-block and neighborhood-by-neighborhood. Just as we often check the weather as part of preparing for the day, being able to check local air quality conditions can help us navigate the areas where we spend our time.
Much of Project Air View’s success owes great credit to the years of work our late colleague, Chris McMahon, dedicated to this campaign. Chris was instrumental in developing the Aclima hardware platform and in managing the work in the field. We are forever grateful to Chris for the time and expertise he shared with us.
What do you do at Aclima?
I manage our Google Street View cars and drivers. I do a variety of things including designing drive plans, overseeing the general health of our equipment in the vehicles, and some testing and data analysis along the way. I also ensure that we maintain good data quality, which is something my training as an analytical chemist has prepared me for.
How do the Google Street View drivers know where to go?
In most cases, we assign them what we call ‘polygons’, which are essentially shapes drawn over a particular neighborhood on a map. They can see their position in real time within the polygon on the Google Street View monitor and are instructed to drive every segment of road in that polygon.
What inspires you about our mobile mapping project?
Being able to visualize air pollution data at a fine scale is what led me to seek out Aclima, and it is what keeps me inspired every day. The challenge in making environmental quality measurements is that we have been “tool limited” for a long time. Aclima powers past many of these limitations. Visualizing very large spatio-temporal datasets is one particular challenge that we have overcome and being able to easily browse the data on a map is something that excites and inspires me.
What do you hope people get out of the data we’re collecting about outdoor air?
This field has been tool limited, but also data point limited — in that the sheer number of areas aren’t monitored. The atmosphere is a very dynamic system. By having mobile measurements, you can understand how pollutants are behaving in time and space. Ultimately, I hope that our data leads to meaningful change. If we can put data in the hands of community leaders, you can start to imagine what good they can accomplish.
What challenges did you face to get this project off the ground?
There are many challenges with a project of this size. One small but important aspect, for example, is vehicle maintenance. We put our hands on every car, and the equipment inside, every day — from regular calibrations to daily inspections. We’ve had a few breakdowns, tires changes, and many dead car batteries along the way.
What are you most proud of working at Aclima?
90% of my job is making sure that the data comes in and is good quality. When I see the data displayed on one of our maps, I’m proud knowing that I contributed and that the data is trustworthy.
Where do you hope we drive next?
I’d like to drive the southern San Joaquin Valley — cities like Fresno and Bakersfield — which is an area that suffers from some of the worst air quality in the country. Also the Yosemite Valley, which has obvious appeal, but also has tons of traffic throughout the summer months, can be impacted by wildfires, and, to top it off, receives pollution transported from the Central Valley. Internationally, it would be really interesting to measure and monitor air quality in Mexico City, which has historically bad air quality and is located in high altitude, which makes it a unique place to study.
California’s Central Valley is often referred to as America’s Breadbasket, famously depicted in John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. Nearly 50% of U.S.-grown fruits, nuts, and vegetables are produced in California, in farms located in the Central Valley. Like dairy farms, the fields where alfalfa, rice, and strawberries are grown and harvested takes acres of space, seasonal tilling, and care. An output of this abundance combined with geography and weather, results in air pollution that is different from that typically found in urban areas.
Our cities and buildings are dynamic, living systems. Millions of residents go about their lives making transportation and energy choices, like riding bikes through the park or sitting in traffic. Adding weather to this mix of individual and collective activities creates shifts in air quality patterns throughout a day, a week, months, or years.
Practicing Environmental Health Science with Air Quality Data
Did you know that your zip code may be a better predictor of your health than your genetic code? Research shows that the places where we live, work, and play greatly impact health and wellbeing throughout our lives.
We’re excited to announce today that Luc Vincent, VP of Engineering at Lyft and former Director of Engineering at Google, has joined our Advisory Board. While at Google, Luc took Larry Page’s idea of mapping the world in pictures from a Google moonshot to a global Street View fleet, making street-level imagery accessible to hundreds of millions of daily users. He joins Aclima as an advisor to scale our environmental mapping capabilities in the U.S. and abroad.
Events like the March for Science on April 22th, Earth Day, allow us to reflect about the importance of science to our society. Science is the essential tool for understanding our physical world and the basis for unbiased inquiry. It allows us to ask questions, and provides us with data-driven answers to inform and improve our lives. As our Chief Scientist, Dr. Melissa Lunden, puts it: science explains how you can make anything better.
It is often said that management is more art than science. Consequently, it seems fitting that the National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers (NAREIM) convened its 2017 Asset and Portfolio Managers Conference in the shadow of the Denver Art Museum. The venue gave the group some inspiration for a day of professional education and thoughtful conversation. Here are three questions that stuck with me from the day:
Leaders in Silicon Valley refer to the willingness to take on ambitious and seemingly impossible challenges as “moonshot thinking”, inspired by man’s first moon-landing within a decade of setting the goal. This kind of thinking has led to the Internet, driverless cars, and rockets that will eventually take us to Mars. At Aclima, we apply Earthshot thinking to develop bold technologies that address the planetary scale challenge of global pollution and climate change. Earlier this month, we were invited to speak about Earthshot thinking at the United Nations event “Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Agenda”, where the focus was on solutions that serve our planet and people. Aclima was honored to participate in this event.
The Green Building Council of Australia’s (GBCA) Green Cities Conference is always one of the highlights of the year for the green building industry. This year leaned forward with an emphasis on the future and the emerging role of data and technology. A big part of this story is the evolution of green building from episodic certification events toward recognition for real-world performance based on continuous measurement. This evolution requires new skills, and I had the opportunity to share some of the scientific and technical foundations for performance-based green building with our first-ever Master Class on Environmental Sensing for Health & Well-being. Hosted at the beautiful GBCA headquarters overlooking Hyde Park, green building practitioners learned about the science and technology of environmental sensing and discussed the future of the industry. Here are my five key takeaways:
Despite some hints that spring is around the corner here in San Francisco, many areas of the country are still experiencing the throes of winter weather. And with outdoor temperatures still dropping below freezing, indoor temperatures can soar to almost tropical levels, or feel like an icebox. Whether you’re bundled up in your parka or stripping off extra layers, managing your thermal comfort at work can drain your energy and make you less productive. To get a sense of the data behind our comfort challenges, we turned to our in-house sensor network to answer some questions at Aclima’s San Francisco office.
I am excited to join leaders from across the Australian property industry at this year’s Green Cities conference in Sydney. I am especially looking forward to the opportunity to dig into new challenges facing the industry with a new Master Class about the science and technology of human performance and indoor environmental quality.
With the holidays upon us, many companies and organizations are bringing together employees and colleagues to celebrate accomplishments from the year and look forward to the next. Whether it’s a large company holiday party, or a small gathering by a fireplace, many of us don’t stop to think about how we influence our indoor spaces and are, in turn, affected by them. The interaction between the number of people in a room and the ventilation rate of that room dramatically affects how each of us experiences a space.
Last week in New York City, we marked the last GRESB Health & Well-being Event of 2016. The inspiring conversation hosted by The Durst Organization included perspectives from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Delos, Google, the U.S. General Services Administration, the New York Department of Public Health, The Healthy Neighborhood Equity Fund, U.S. Green Building Council, and Aclima. This was an amazing collection of expertise and a clear indicator of the caliber and diversity of interest in health and well-being in the real estate industry.
There is a growing sense that health and well-being is the defining issue of the next generation of green building. We know that green buildings provide health benefits for occupants, as recent research from Harvard shows that employees in green-certified buildings performed higher on cognitive tests than those in similarly high-performing buildings that were not green-certified.
Last week, I joined a group of colleagues at Maastricht University in the Netherlands to talk about green and healthy homes. Our host, Dr. Piet Eichholtz, Chair of the Finance Department, opened the afternoon session with a simple, but powerful observation: health and well-being is emerging as the next “big thing” for the real estate industry.
Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in the New Building Institute’s annual Getting to Zero National Forum in Denver, Colorado. This landmark event brought together leaders in the high-performance building community from around the world to discuss the opportunities and barriers on the road to “zero”.
This Sunday, Aclima participated in CicLAvia’s Heart of LA event, the country’s largest open street event. Heart of LA, which took place in the Boyle Heights, Chinatown, Downtown LA, and Westlake neighborhoods of Los Angeles, turns streets into car-free zones to create a vibrant public space for cyclists and pedestrians to enjoy. As part of our commitment to map air pollution in Los Angeles, Aclima-equipped Google Street View cars have been measuring the hyper-local air quality of surrounding streets nearby the Ciclavia route.
Aclima and USGBC to Work Together to Advance Building Performance
Aclima, the leader in environmental intelligence for buildings and communities, announces that Dr. Chris Pyke, former U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) VP of research, joins Aclima as Chief Strategy Officer to expand Aclima’s leadership in the environmental sensing field.
In the classic song “In the Summertime,” Mungo Jerry sings: In the summertime when the weather is hot / You can stretch right up and touch the sky. The lyric elicits the familiar feeling of summer, a sensation of heat-induced laziness where you might stretch your arms up to the sky and let out a sigh. Yet the bright blue skies and warm weather that we associate with summer also come with heightened exposure to air pollution.
Years ago, I spent several months in India at the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad. While I had heard of travellers succumbing to the food or water-induced “Delhi Belly”, I was struck by a persistent cough and respiratory infection that grew deeper and more irritating with each day spent at the dusty, smoke-filled festival. Hundreds of thousands of wood fire pits and stoves were used to cook, heat and worship during this annual event. In fact, millions of people at the festival were inhaling the extremely polluted air affecting me — and most Indians live and breathe this pollution every day of their lives.
When we think of our homes and office buildings, we think about structures that provide shelter and spaces to eat, sleep, and do our work. At a minimum, we hope that the buildings in which we spend 90% of our time don’t make us unhealthy. But what if buildings could actually provide us with information that would improve our wellbeing and increase our productivity?
From central air to green roofs, buildings serve as signs of the cultural times and showcases for technologies of the day. In the early nineties, the “green” building movement was brought into the public eye to reduce stress on the environment by encouraging low-impact, resource-efficient buildings. With high-profile help from organizations like the United States Green Build Council (USGBC) and its LEEDⓇ certification program, planetary health has benefited from these efforts by institutionalizing waste diversion from landfills and reducing energy use and the associated greenhouse gas emissions.
Waste is pervasive in our society. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average person generates 4.3 pounds of waste per day. In the U.S., more than 110 million tons of waste generated each year end up in over 3,500 landfills. The rest of it finds its way into our local waterways. Some of it ends up in the Great Pacific garbage patch, one of seven massive trash gyres floating in the world’s oceans.
Do you work in a “green” or a “conventional” workplace? Buildings span a broad continuum, from modern LEED® Platinum-certified skyscrapers, to those built before germs or bacteria were even discovered. While the daily use and energy consumption across this wide range of buildings may be well known, the conditions we can’t see within their rooms and corridors are poorly understood despite their drastic effects on our health and wellbeing. Given that we spend 90% of our lives indoors, the conditions in our built environments have shown to be critical to health, happiness, and job performance. In short, indoor environmental quality matters and the more we know about it, the more we know about our own health and wellbeing.
Few people stop to think about it, but outdoor activities are a major influence on indoor air quality. Outdoor emissions are a significant contributing factor to the quality and breathability of air inside the buildings where we all live, work, and spend most of our time each day. According to the EPA, the average American spends roughly 90% of their time indoors.
Aclima’s environmental sensor networks collect over a billion data points every day. This data reveals actionable insights about buildings, cities, and communities, ultimately helping to improve human and planetary health. Our goal is to provide the highest quality environmental data possible. As part of that commitment, we’ve formed partnerships with the world’s leading air quality and sensor experts to help validate our approach.
During Greenbuild 2015 in Washington, D.C., the first annual BOLD Awards recognized Building Optimizers, Leaders and Disruptors who are driving change and innovation in green building projects across the country. Organized by Aquicore, Building Robotics, Enlighted and View, the BOLD Awards Ceremony celebrated four outstanding individuals who are creating a better, more sustainable built environment — and we are proud to announce that Davida Herzl, Aclima’s CEO and Co-founder received the “Inventor” award.
Last month at GreenBiz’s VERGE Conference, Aclima, and our partners at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Google Earth Outreach participated in a panel discussion about our work together to visualize city-scale pollution at the street level, in real time.
While we were still in stealth mode, our Chief Creative Officer, Reuben Herzl, gave a talk about human feedback loops in the built environment to The Los Angeles Chapter of The American Institute of Architects and their Committee on the Environment (COTE).
Aclima’s most valuable resource is our people. Besides our committed team who keep our work humming along every day, we are guided by a team of luminaries from the fields of science, policy and technology.
Aclima’s Sensory Science™ represents the combination of many proprietary innovations in hardware and software. Each of these innovations started as an idea and ultimately advanced to a product that provides value to our partners. To move each innovation from concept to implementation requires impeccable organization and management capabilities.
Aclima’s environmental sensor networks collect over 500 million data points every day. While a single data point is useful, it is the trends and changes over time that expose the most meaningful insights. To surface these insights, we’ve built a rich interface that creates a holistic understanding of the data collected, giving meaningful context to the viewer.
Aclima, a San Francisco company specializing in the development, design and deployment of environmental sensor networks, announced today that Aclima and Google Maps commit to measuring and mapping air quality within three major California metropolitan communities including the Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Central Valley regions. The initiative utilizes Aclima’s newly-tested mobile sensor technology platform on Google Street View cars, first announced in July. The commitment will serve as a launchpad for scaling a broader initiative to map pollutants that most affect human health and climate change.
Deploying sensor networks across a range of environments results in hundreds of unique challenges. We use rapid iteration and prototyping to find answers to these complex questions. Today, Aclima’s sensor networks are painting a high resolution picture of the world around us.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Advised Aclima on Platform Test in Denver
SAN FRANCISCO (July 28, 2015) — Aclima, Inc., a San Francisco-based company that designs and deploys environmental sensor networks, today announced a new partnership with Google Earth Outreach to map and better understand urban air quality. The partnership enables a paradigm-shift in environmental awareness by equipping Street View cars with Aclima’s mobile sensing platform to see the air around us in ways never before possible. Three Street View cars took measurements of nitrogen dioxide, nitric oxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane, black carbon, particulate matter, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) — air pollutants which can affect human health or climate change.
“We have a profound opportunity to understand how cities live and breathe in an entirely new way by integrating Aclima’s mobile sensing platform with Google Maps and Street View cars,” said Davida Herzl, co-founder and CEO of Aclima. “With more than half of the world’s population now living in cities, environmental health is becoming increasingly important to quality of life. Today we’re announcing the success of our integration test with Google, which lays the foundation for generating high resolution maps of air quality in cities.”
Aclima instrumented three Google Street View vehicles to perform a month-long system test in the Denver metro area during the DISCOVER-AQ study conducted by NASA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The cars clocked 750 hours of drive time and gathered 150 million data points, correlated with data from EPA stationary measurement sites. EPA provided scientific expertise in study design and instrument operations as part of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Aclima.
“Environmental air quality is an issue that affects everyone, especially those living in big cities,” said Karin Tuxen-Bettman, Program Manager for Google Earth Outreach. “This partnership with Aclima builds on our ongoing partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund, enabling us to take the next steps in our pilot project to use Street View and Google Maps as an environmental mapping platform. We hope this information will enable more people to be aware of how our cities live and breathe, and join the dialog on how to make improvements to air quality.”
To assess if air quality is meeting — or exceeding — public health standards, the EPA relies on an extensive network of stationary equipment, placed in urban areas, that measure carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, hydrocarbons and photochemical oxidants. The monitoring network is designed for air quality regulation, but does not give a detailed picture of a community or urban area such that people can get a real sense of what air pollution is in their immediate surroundings. Aclima’s mobile sensing platform on Street View cars complements EPA’s regional air measurement network by introducing a new body of knowledge about air quality at the street level.
“Our research partnership with Aclima is helping us understand air pollutants at the local and community level, and how they move in an urban area at the ground level,” said Dan Costa, Sc.D., National Program Director, EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “New mobile air measurements can complement existing stationary measurements for a more detailed picture of personal and community air quality.”
“The Denver pilot was a scientifically driven process to validate the use of Aclima’s system for mobile environmental sensing with Google Street View vehicles and proved that mobile sensing at the street level is possible,” said Melissa Lunden, Director of Research for Aclima. “We want to get this right. Which is why we asked a team of nationally recognized air and climate scientists to review our methodology.”
“Many things affect air quality — everything from our transportation and energy choices, to green space and the weather,” said Herzl. “Understanding these complex relationships is critical to managing and improving air quality. The Denver test prepares us for scaling the system and introducing Aclima’s mobile sensing platform to communities anywhere Google Street View vehicles drive. There’s unlimited potential for our work to help improve the health and resilience of communities everywhere.”
This Fall, Aclima and Google will expand mapping efforts to the San Francisco Bay Area and work with communities and scientists to explore applications for this new environmental tool.
Today’s announcement builds on Aclima’s established partnership with Google to map the indoor environment. Together, they have created a network that is the first of its kind — connected across 21 Google offices around the world. The system processes 500,000,000 data points each day on indoor environmental quality, including comfort measures of temperature, humidity, noise, and light, and air pollutants like carbon dioxide and particulate matter. The information allows Google to evaluate environmental factors in their offices and, in the future, make better decisions on workplace design to support employee wellbeing, productivity and creativity.
Learn more about Aclima and Google’s partnership, and explore insights from our Denver test at insights.aclima.io.
As part of our People of Aclima Series, each week we highlight one of the talented people behind our Sensory Science™. Aclima values rigorous science that delivers high-quality environmental data. As part of that commitment, we’ve formed a team of experienced research scientists to constantly test, evaluate and improve our sensor networks.
One of Aclima’s greatest strengths are the talented people behind our Sensory Science. Engineers, scientists and storytellers, every member of our team is an innovator, a leader and deeply committed to the mission of amplifying awareness of the world around us.
At Aclima, we’re on a mission to increase environmental awareness and make the invisible, visible — on an unprecedented scale. For the last several years, we’ve been busy building and deploying a new sensing platform for mapping the environment. Today we’re ready to introduce ourselves!
Partnerships advance Aclima Sensory Science™, making environmental quality visible through distributed sensor networks
SAN FRANCISCO (June 30, 2015) — Aclima Inc., a San Francisco-based company that designs and deploys environmental sensor networks, today unveiled its work and announced partnerships with Google Inc., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Additionally, the company named an advisory board of luminaries to guide Aclima’s mission-driven work.
“We’re on a big, ambitious mission at Aclima to usher in an age of environmental awareness that creates a more resilient, healthy and thriving world,” said Davida Herzl, co-founder and CEO of Aclima. “There is a growing need — for businesses, governments and citizens alike — to ‘Live Aware’ by first understanding, and then improving our built and natural environments. Aclima has spent years in stealth creating a complete system to map environmental quality in an entirely new way, enabling us to see how our buildings, communities and cities live and breathe.”
To achieve its mission, Aclima’s team of designers, engineers and scientists built a full-stack hardware and software platform for measuring and understanding environmental quality in real-time. Aclima’s modular and scalable networks of internet-connected sensors generate billions of data points across a range of environmental factors. Each sensor network is customized to meet the needs of enterprise and government partners — whether a partner is interested in mapping greenhouse gases across an entire city, or air pollutants that affect human health inside commercial buildings.
The company’s cloud-based back-end and modular front-end tools process, analyze, and visualize limitless amounts of environmental data, enabling Aclima scientists and partners to discover real-time and long-term insights. With its managed infrastructure tools, Aclima ensures network reliability and optimal data quality. Aclima works hand-in-hand with partners to explore their spaces and apply insights toward optimal decision making. Aclima refers to this unique service model, combining technology and data-driven insights, as Sensory ScienceTM.
One of Aclima’s most significant enterprise partners to date is Google. For several years, Google and Aclima have worked together to deploy a global indoor environmental sensor network — the first of its kind — connected across 21 Google offices around the world. Five hundred networked Aclima devices currently process 500,000,000 data points each day on indoor environmental quality, including comfort measures of temperature, humidity, noise, and light, and emissions like carbon dioxide and particulate matter. The information allows Google to evaluate environmental factors in their offices and, in the future, make better decisions on workplace design to support employee wellbeing, productivity and creativity.
“Working with Aclima has helped us to bring together the best thinking, science, and technology to support Googlers in a new and innovative way,” said Anthony Ravitz from Google Real Estate and Workplace Services. “We strive to create the healthiest and best possible work environments for Googlers. Our vision is to create buildings that seamlessly support the people who inhabit them. Using Aclima’s science-driven sensor networks to map our indoor environmental quality is a big part of making that happen.”
To push the limits of current sensing technology, Aclima has established scientific and research relationships of the highest caliber. In 2013, Aclima and the EPA signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA). The collaboration brings together EPA scientists with Aclima’s Research and Development team to improve data quality from small-scale sensors. The partnership is advancing Aclima’s measurement methods for its stationary and vehicular sensing platforms.
“With increasing public awareness and concern about air quality in communities, there’s an urgent call for publicly accessible local environmental data and air quality information, both indoors and outdoors,” said Dan Costa, National Program Director for Air, Climate, and Energy Program at EPA. “We’re excited to partner with Aclima to develop new sensor technologies and to conduct research that will provide more accessible, less expensive and more reliable data on air pollutants needed by decision makers in the public and private sectors to better understand the air we breathe.”
Aclima also leads a cross-sector collaboration with Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, UC Berkeley, University of Illinois at Chicago, and the EPA to engineer and commercialize a miniaturized particulate matter sensor — the smallest sensor of its kind — for the air pollutant most responsible for respiratory health problems, like asthma.
“Bringing a small-scale sensor of this type to market will help us to effectively measure particle pollution, which has been linked to a wide range of serious health problems,” said Dr. Lara Gundel, Staff Scientist at Berkeley Lab. “At Berkeley Lab we have been at the forefront of environmental sensing research, and our partnership with Aclima will bring this innovation out of the lab and into the market.”
Aclima began its startup journey with a belief that businesses can become market leaders by driving beneficial social change. Rather than focusing on a ‘minimum viable product’, Aclima’s founders sought a growth and partnership approach aimed at achieving ‘maximum societal impact.’ This approach supports the company’s ultimate vision of a real-time, dynamic, global layer of dense environmental data that gives society the tools to optimize human and planetary health.
“Understanding the link between planetary health and human health has never been more pressing,” said Herzl. “Aclima is working to make this invisible connection visible, on a grand scale and across industries. Having bootstrapped the company with revenue, grounded in strong business fundamentals, we’re excited to start sharing our work with the world. It is an honor to have Google, EPA, LBNL and our incredible advisory board working with us. The potential represented by this group is truly inspiring.”
Aclima Advisory Board members include luminaries such as: Jane Lubchenco, former Administrator of The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) under President Barack Obama; William K. Reilly, former Administrator of the EPA and Senior Advisor to TPG Capital; Peter Senge, Senior Lecturer at MIT School of Management, pioneer in systems science and author of “The Fifth Discipline”; Elad Gil, Serial entrepreneur and former VP of Corporate Strategy for Twitter; Greg Niemeyer, Professor at UC Berkeley and Director of the Berkeley Center for New Media; David Sherman, co-author of the “Flourishing Enterprise” and distinguished fellow at the Fowler Center for Sustainable Value; and Martin Goebel, Founder of Sustainable Northwest and former country president for World Wildlife Fund and Conservation International.