JCDecaux SA (Euronext Paris: DEC), the number one outdoor advertising company worldwide has partnered with Microsoft Research’s Urban Innovation Group and the Array of Things team to launch an air quality sensor pilot on 100 bus shelters in Chicago, in order to monitor precisely air quality across the city and facilitate adapted environmental measures.
Jean-François Decaux, Chairman of the Executive Board and Co-Chief Executive Officer of JCDecaux, said: “Cities are facing major challenges in terms of air quality and health. The unique density and coverage of street furniture in urban centres make them an ideal medium to plug environmental services, such as air quality sensors. We are proud to partner with Microsoft Research Urban Innovation Group to contribute to real-time monitoring of air quality in Chicago and to furnish precise geo-localized data, useful to the city and to the dwellers’ well-being. Improving urban living has always driven the efforts of JCDecaux to develop innovative and ecological services. Through this new partnership, and as a trusted media, JCDecaux demonstrates the usefulness and efficiency of its media for local areas and their populations and continues to be an integral part of an approach to raising awareness in its ecosystem to build a more sustainable world.”
The World Health Organization estimates that 91% of the world’s population live in places where air quality exceeds guideline limits. Air pollution is a major concern for cities, given its consequences for human health and the environment. However, it is critical for urban areas to assess air quality on a real-time basis to be able to formulate policies to address these challenges. By using environmental sensors, cities can radically increase the geographic granularity of environmental sensing in support of creating solutions to improve everyday air quality in the urban environment for a variety of public health scenarios.
Close up of Microsoft air quality sensor on Chicago bus shelter (shaped like blue leaf)
As a partner to 3,670 cities around the world, JCDecaux is innovating continuously not only to limit the environmental impact of its activities but also to develop solutions for sustainable cities. For its pilot program in Chicago, JCDecaux installed 100 air quality sensors on its bus shelters specially designed for the City by the architect Robert A.M. Stern, across the wards of Chicago, to measure and record air quality, temperature, and humidity across the city and throughout various weather conditions and seasonality.
With these environmental sensors, Chicago, a global smart city, will be able to collect precise data and fine tune with the objective of improving air quality and the quality of life of its inhabitants. The data will be accessible to the public on smartphones by scanning a QR code on each bus shelter referring to a website, designed by Microsoft Research, to provide the public with easily understood information from the air sensor data collected (at each location as well as in comparison to other locations).This information will also be fed into the Chicago Open Data portal .
JCDecaux has long pursued a policy of responsible innovation and has already developed programs providing air quality measurement in other countries, including France (Nice) and Japan (Tokyo). The Group has also recently launched a range of new-generation bus shelters, including Filtreo®, with its roof made of a carpet of moss that captures and absorbs pollutants providing cleaner air to passengers, and a natural cooling bus shelter, offering a solution to the urban heat islands.
Scott Counts, Senior Principal Research Manager at Microsoft Research, Urban Innovation Group, said: “We’re excited to partner with JCDecaux to enable neighborhood scale air quality monitoring in Chicago. Together, our goal is to help inform and engage residents and the city so that they can take targeted steps to mitigate issues with poor air quality, especially in areas most in need. Leveraging the bus shelter network allows us to place air quality monitors at representative locations around the city and with a high density of coverage.”
Charlie Catlett, Senior Research Scientist at the University of Illinois Discovery Partners Institute and leader of the Array of Things team (comprising scientists from Argonne National Laboratory, the University of Chicago, and Northwestern University), said: “This project builds on partnerships we have been building for many years through scientific projects like the Array of Things, with a constantly expanding community of scientists who are eager to analyze the data.”