Mobile phone data used to predict city air pollution
Study by Teralytics shows how phone data can be used to predict emissions from transport
A Swiss analytics company has demonstrated a way of using mobile phone networks to predict patterns of carbon gas emissions, to study the effect of air pollution in urban areas.
Teralytics has conducted a study in Nuremburg, Germany, which used aggregated and anonymised data from mobile phone network cells, to detect patterns of user mobility and transport usage, and predict with 77% accuracy the resulting emissions and air pollution.
The method has potential as a very low cost way of monitoring atmospheric pollution, according to Teralytics.
The study was conducted by Teralytics in partnership with the analytics and IoT arm of mobile operator Telefonica, and South Pole Group, a global sustainability solutions and services provider.
By taking mobile device usage data from Telefónica's mobile communication cells, . Teralytics was able detect human mobility patterns and how users were travelling on different modes of transport. Combining this information with data on the emissions of the different transport modes, the three entities were able to estimate air pollution and GHG emissions in the city.
As each form of transportation produces a unique amount of CO2 and NOX emissions, understanding urban mobility patterns is vital to understand the source of emissions. The study in Nuremberg used this information to estimate with up to 77 per cent accuracy the concentration of air pollutants in the city. These findings encourage further exploration of how big data can be used to understand and ultimately solve environmental issues such as air pollution in cities across the world.
"While our contemporary urban lifestyles result in the generation of harmful greenhouse gasses, it also generates large amounts of behavioural data. Our mission at Teralytics is to use this data for the benefit of society," said Georg Polzer, CEO of Teralytics. "Our findings from Nuremberg showed that this data can be used to give city planners insights into how human mobility contributes to pollution. This is a vital part to efficiently design and implement clean air and low carbon strategies. We are looking forward to further exploring this opportunity."
"The results from this pilot study exceed our expectations," added Maximilian Groth, responsible for Business Development & Partnerships at Teralytics. "We are confident that we will soon be able to scale this product to cities worldwide to support urban planners in making our air cleaner and achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement at the lowest possible cost."
This research follows other successful studies on usage of mobile network data, including a smart data analysis for transport in Stuttgart by Teralytics, Telefónica Germany, and Fraunhofer IAO.
Additional comments on the topic:
"Approximately 70% 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," said Renat Heuberger, CEO of South Pole Group.