hyper-local-mappingGoogle Street View Cars Join Battle Against Air Pollution

Our ability to monitor air quality just got a major boost, thanks to an innovative idea to put sensors on Google Street View cars. The cars are normally used to take the street-level photos that accompany Google Maps. But depending on how they are equipped, the cars can gather many different kinds of data.

"Most air pollution is measured at a city level, but air quality can change block by block, hour by hour and day to day. To better understand air quality on a more local level, we began working with our partner Aclima - to map air pollution across California using Google Street View cars-equipped with air quality sensors," writes Karin Tuxen-Bettman, Program Manager, Google Earth Outreach.

Most air quality sensors are placed on stationary objects such as poles, towers or buildings. That limits their effectiveness and it also makes it easier for polluters to avoid detection.

The decision to put air quality sensors on the Street View cars essentially creates a fleet of highly mobile monitors, which is precisely the kind of innovative thinking required to deal with ongoing problems like air pollution. 


cloudcamNew Cloud Cam Augments Home Security

Amazon has taken another step into the future with its Cloud Cam, an Internet-connected security camera that streams video of your front door. 

The new camera works in tandem with another Amazon product called Key, which enables you to have packages from Amazon dropped off inside your home, instead of outside of it.

"More of a protocol than a product, Amazon Key gives customers the choice to allow Amazon delivery persons access to open the smart lock on their front door, easing the hassle of package drop-offs. The Cloud Cam would just be a way to keep an eye on those friendly gig economy workers placing boxes into your entryway," writes Michael Calore of Wired.


three-degree-worldWhich Cities Will Be Underwater?

Sea levels are rising, threatening the existence of many coastal cities, particularly in Asia. The Guardian recently published a fascinating collection of data graphics showing the impact of rising waters on coastal communities such as Osaka, Alexandria, Egypt and Rio de Janeiro.

"One of the biggest resulting threats to cities around the world is sea-level rise, caused by the expansion of water at higher temperatures and melting ice sheets on the north and south poles," according to Guardian reporters. "Scientists at the non-profit organization Climate Central estimate that 275 million people worldwide live in areas that will eventually be flooded at 3C (degrees Celsius) of global warming."

The graphics are genuinely sobering, and worth looking at. The world as we know it is changing.