Air quality and especially clean air has become an important topic worldwide. Cities are struggling with air-based health hazards. Even in Finland, where we breathe perhaps the most clean air in the world, there is evidence of health conditions and even deaths caused by air pollution.The situation gets worse when we consider huge cities in e.g. Asia or Europe. The cross-disciplinary research and development project run by University of Helsinki aims to provide research and technology-based solutions to the increasingly important issue. Read more about the MegaSense below.
MegaSense was a consortium driven project funded by Business Finland with the main goal of bringing clean air navigation tools to citizens across the world. We have developed a tandem of web and mobile applications. The main functions of the apps include: planning routes, route guidance and air quality routing statistics collection. In other words, our application will find the cleanest air route based on your preferences, guide you through the route and provide you with an easy-to-understand air quality statistics breakdown. It is surprising how this simple idea not only benefits citizens’ health but also encourages cities to improve their air quality situations. During this project, Metatavu had an important role of creating an application ecosystem that allows people to access current air quality situations at home or on the go. It is always a challenge to represent such scientific data to the masses, however, with help of our user-friendly interface design – it is now easier than ever.
Other consortium members, including Finnish Meteorological Insitute (FMI), University of Helsinki and Nokia, are responsible for collecting, modelling and distributing the data used in the clean air navigation applications. The data is collected from the sensor network and then processed by a high precision model. On the output, we get very reliable and highly scalable air quality data to be used in our application. Furthermore, our collaborative approach made our solution very scalable. Having the sensors and the model allows us to initialise an application infrastructure within a few hours in most parts of the world.
The application development started with evaluating the target user group needs. It was clear that not everyone is going to explore the map pollution data on a small screen of their mobile devices. That is when a decision was made to build two applications for desktop and mobile platforms. Those applications share some functionalities and can be used in a combination for the fullest experience or separately based on a user preference. The desktop application is more of an exploration tool where you can see the current air pollution situation, plan future routes or follow your personalised past navigation data and exposure to different pollutants.
On the other hand, the mobile application is designed to be used “on the go”. It provides functionality for planning the routes and navigating them with step-by-step guidance. Users can choose which route option suits them the best based on pollution levels and the time it takes to navigate the route. Moreover, users specify through the settings if they happen to have any of the medical conditions whose severity can be increased by some pollutants. This custom setting allows avoiding areas that are not suitable for certain people, thus, providing a better living solution for all of us.
The portability of the applications is achieved through software containers orchestrated by Kubernetes. Therefore, the Megasense application can be ported to any system and infrastructure that supports Kubernetes. Web application and backend services are running in containers and are highly configurable using the specific configuration files. Mobile applications are available on IOS and Android and can be made available on App Store and Google Play respectively.
Our end goal of creating the Megasense application ecosystem was made possible by our partners’ significant input. Great collaboration along with rapid problem resolving has proven that our collaboration with FMI and the University of Helsinki will go a long way! Here is what their representatives think about our collaboration:
“It has been great to work with Metatavu because their application has really demonstrated how our air quality modelling can be put to excellent use to benefit cities’ inhabitants.”
John Backman, PhD Senior Scientist, Atmospheric Dispersion Modelling Researcher at Finnish Meteorological Institute
“Metatavu has significantly contributed to the development of the MegaSense Smart City consortium. Their end-user application brings together the University of Helsinki’s concept of massive low-cost sensing of air pollution, FMI city-wide air quality modelling and Nokia data messaging”
Andrew Rebeiro-Hargrave, Senior Researcher at University of Helsinki
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