Big data can help save the planet

Big data

A new study conducted in Nuremberg, Germany, reveals that the analysis of mobile network data can effectively estimate carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions in urban areas at very low cost.

This new approach could substantially reduce the cost of implementing the Paris Agreement, which deals with greenhouse-gas (GHG) emission mitigation.

The study analyses mobility patterns derived from mobile network data to estimate the usage of different transport modes within a city and derive conclusions about the respective pollution they cause.

Teralytics, Telefónica NEXT and sustainability solution provider South Pole Group collectively conducted the study and found that this innovative methodology allowed scientists to estimate the concentration of air pollutants in urban areas with up to 77 percent accuracy.

The method could provide a scalable and cost-effective way to help understand and combat GHG emissions in cities worldwide.

“Approximately 70 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions are generated in cities, meaning that they play a key role in climate protection. We see great potential in the use of continuously generated data, such as mobile network data, to measure and reduce pollution levels in cities,” says Renat Heuberger, CEO of South Pole Group. 

These findings are particularly interesting with regards to the lower cost of analysing and interpreting data compared to the higher cost of production and maintenance of elaborate measuring stations.

“Our findings from Nuremberg showed that this data can be used to give city planners insights into how human mobility contributes to pollution,” says Georg Polzer, CEO of Teralytics.

“This is a vital part in efficiently designing and implementing clean air and low carbon strategies. We are looking forward to further exploring this opportunity.”

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