20. February 2019

It’s a topic that has been in the media every day for months – air quality. Ultrafine dust particles and nitrogen oxides that occur in our air and contaminate it. In Aachen, Air pollution figures are measured by two fixed measuring stations whose measurement results are freely available to everyone on the website of the NRW State Office for Nature, Environment and Consumer Protection. It quickly becomes clear that the measuring station, which is set up in a park, has a much better air quality than the measuring station which is located directly on a busy four-lane road. A result that does not surprise anyone.

Did you know that these measuring station values (only) provide an adequate statement regarding an area of 5 x 5km²? Although this seems unbelievable due to the fact that the measuring station is positioned in the middle of the city surrounded by tall houses, it is not sufficient. The city of Aachen came to realise this in 2018 as well and installed, for a certain period of time, further measuring stations that were subsequently evaluated in a laboratory. This was definately a step in the right direction, but in order to make reliable real-time statements and forecasts, more data is required.

The creation of more data that can be used for detailed air quality inspection is precisely the goal that we are pursuing together with GEOTAB. Originally, the Canadian company dealt with telemetry and fleet management. Engine data, GPS data, fill level indicators, weather data and much more are collected here, so why not also information on fine dust and nitrogen oxide? Colleagues from Center Smart Services and GEOTAB met at the beginning of December and set up the first prototype for a mobile measuring station together. Afterwards, it was tested over Christmas and the turn of the year. As a result,  the next prototype was available at the beginning of the year.

The first company to agree to a practical test was the Jacobs Group. The idea of measuring air quality on the road, straight at the source of the cause, convinced them quickly. A few weeks and another optimization of the sensor later, the measuring device is located on Aachen’s streets and measures air quality. We will make this data publicly accessible in the form of a “heat map” so that everyone who is interested has the opportunity to find out about Aachen’s air quality.

But the aim of this cooperation is not just to collect data. The Center Smart Services is also focusing on the development of digital business models and all the questions arising with them: Which models are suitable for what kind of company, who benefits from them and how do they affect our everyday lives? You will find out more about this here shortly.