GIS News

Let’s clear the air: mapping our environment for our health

Jun 05 2017 [Archived Version] □ Published at Maps under tags  environment maps

How hot will it be today? What is the traffic for my commute to work? Where’s the nearest grocery store? Every day we use data about the world around us to make decisions. One useful dataset is air pollution data, which contains much-needed information that can help us understand how to live healthier lives, build smarter and more sustainable cities, and reduce climate-changing greenhouse gases in both urban and rural areas.

Mapping air pollution at street level

Today, with our partners at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Aclima, we’re sharing the first results of an endeavor we started in 2015: to measure air quality using Aclima equipment mounted on Google Street View cars. You can now see maps for Oakland, CA, released by EDF, of nitric oxide (NO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and black carbon—pollutants emitted from cars, trucks and other sources that can affect our health and our climate.

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Black carbon particles come from burning fuel, especially diesel, wood and coal. High exposure is associated with heart attacks, stroke and some forms of cancer. Air quality data from Google/Aclima; analysis by Apte et al/EDF. Colors on the map do not correlate to colors on the Air Quality Index.

Zooming in, you can see street-level details that show how pollution can change block by block. For example, the area where the Bay Bridge meets the I-80, a major freeway, has sustained higher pollution levels due to vehicles speeding up to cross under I-80 and merge onto the bridge. These insights can help community groups like the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project get a better understanding of local air quality and assist regulators like the Bay Area Air Quality Management District in identifying opportunities to achieve greater air quality improvements. This kind of information can also be applied to other cities, who are trying to understand local air quality patterns and implement solutions that improve the local environment.

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Zoom-in of black carbon in Oakland, where you can see block-by-block air quality. Air quality data from Google/Aclima; analysis by Apte et al/EDF. Colors on the map do not correlate to colors on the Air Quality Index.

We hope Bay Area residents use this resource to explore air quality in Oakland, and find out how you can do your part to improve it. Scientists can request access to the validated data now. You can also learn more about the science behind these maps in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, authored by a scientific team led by Dr. Joshua Apte, at the University of Texas-Austin.


Today’s news follows our 2014 project with EDF to map methane leaks, and our 2015 announcement with Aclima to map air quality in Los Angeles, San Francisco and the Central Valley communities. We’re excited to share the data that made this science possible with more researchers.

With nearly 3 million measurements and 14,000 miles captured in the course of a year, this is one of the largest air quality datasets ever published, and demonstrates the potential of  neighborhood-level air quality mapping. This map makes the invisible, visible, so that we can breathe better and live healthier. It helps us understand how clean (or not clean) our air is, so that we can make changes to improve it.


FishViews: Mapping the world’s waterways one mile at a time

Jun 05 2017 [Archived Version] □ Published at Geoawesomeness under tags  fishviews giscience hydrographic surveying mapping mapping the waterways

Google Streetview has enabled all of us to be armchair geographers, checking out some of the greatest sights in the world from the comfort of our living rooms. One thing that I can’t do with Google is navigate down a river! But with FishViews you can do just that and more. Scott Gallagher, CEO of […]

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FME Beyond Spatial: Automated Enterprise Data Integration at Grant PUD

Jun 05 2017 [Archived Version] □ Published at Safe Software Blog under tags  about our customers application integration automation data integration enterprise

Grant PUD (Public Utilities District) is a community-owned and governed organization that offers both electric and wholesale broadband services to 40,000 customers in Grant County, WA. It operates 2 dams: the Wanapum Dam and Priest Rapids Dam, producing over 2,000 megawatts of electricity. As a not-for-profit organization striving to keep costs down for the residents […]

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AEC Workshops

Jun 05 2017 [Archived Version] □ Published at In The Scan under tags  conferences education training

The USIBD and FARO are joining forces to offer a series of free AEC hands-on workshops. Please join USIBD™ and FARO® Technologies for a FREE educational, hands-on workshop to learn how to utilize scan data in popular building applications. Why … Continue reading

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Waymo vs. Uber Update

Jun 05 2017 [Archived Version] □ Published at In The Scan under tags  uncategorized

In the latest development regarding Google’s Waymo vs. Uber lawsuit lidar guru Anthony Levandowski has been fired by Uber. This comes after the judge ordered all documents in question be turned over and that Levandowski not work on anything involving … Continue reading

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SSVEC Webinar on Collector High Accuracy

Jun 05 2017 [Archived Version] □ Published at ArcGIS Blog under tags  apps arcgis online collector collector for arcgis eos positioning

During a recent EGUG Birds of a Feather webcast, Kurt Towler from Sulfer Springs Valley Electric Cooperative (SSVEC), presented on how they used Collector for ArcGIS with Eos Positioning GNSS receivers to inspect 7,640 locations, capture over 34,000 asset records in just 32 days. That’s 235 collections … Continue reading


Top 20 most amazing and beautiful maps you’ve ever seen

Jun 04 2017 [Archived Version] □ Published at Geoawesomeness under tags  featured maps topgeo

Over the years we’ve shared with you hundreds of amazing maps featuring them on the website and as #GeoawesomeMapOfTheDay on our social media channels. We’ve decided to select 20 most stunning maps we’ve ever shared or wrote about. It was a difficult choice  and we would like to add to the list maps that we’ve missed, […]

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New emergency locator beacon takes ‘search’ out of ‘search and rescue’

Jun 04 2017 [Archived Version] □ Published at Geoawesomeness under tags  beacons location-based services nasa

For more than four decades now, airlines, ships and hikers have been using emergency locator beacons that were developed in the 1970s to transmit distress signals to the nearest satellites. These beacons have saved 40,000 lives till date, but the technology comes with a striking limitation: It is accurate only up to 2km radius. In […]

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A Year’s Worth of Changes in Google and Apple Maps

Jun 03 2017 [Archived Version] □ Published at The Map Room under tags  apple maps google maps map design mobile web mapping

Justin O’Beirne is back with a look at how both Google and Apple Maps have changed incrementally over the past year. Shortly after I published my Cartography Comparison last June, I noticed Google updating some of the areas we had focused on[.] Coincidence or not, it was interesting. And it made me wonder what else … Continue reading "A Year’s Worth of Changes in Google and Apple Maps"


‘Based on Something Something Search Data’

Jun 03 2017 [Archived Version] □ Published at The Map Room under tags  comics funny unusual maps xkcd

In yesterday’s xkcd cartoon, Randall makes explicit what I think a lot of us have been thinking about those maps assigning a word or a search term to each state or country or whatnot.