Pilot project for measuring air quality provides real time data for all citizens

Measuring instruments by GRIMM in use / Ad hoc alerts and coupling with traffic management systems possible

Augsburg / Ainring, 10 September 2020 - The Smart Air Quality Network (SmartAQnet) pilot project for the intelligent measurement of air pollutants is following a unique approach in Germany and Europe whereby immissions are being recorded by numerous combined sensors and measuring instruments and presented online, accessible for all citizens. This also involves real time data instead of the previously used daily retrospective average figures for air purity. Selective high immission levels can, therefore, be seen during the course of the day as well as the causes and effects which would generally only be possible with inferior resolution with regard to time and space or with elaborate, and not particularly accurate, data modelling. Changes in the air pollutant level through driving bans or the effects of the recent coronavirus lockdown can be depicted in a much more detailed and clearer way thanks to such a high-resolution measuring network. This has also led to the increased acceptancy of the test network, which has been in operation in Augsburg since 2017, amongst the general public.GRIMM Aerosol Technik Ainring GmbH & Co. KG, co-initiator of SmartAQnet and a subsidiary of the Hamburg-based DURAG GROUP, developed measuring instruments for various particle sizes for the project and employed aerosol spectrometers which are distinguished by particularly precise, reproducible standard deviations depending on the parameters. The joint project (further participants are listed at the end of the text) is being funded with 3.05 million euros from the Federal Ministry of Transport (mFUND funding initiative). The 3.5-year test period ends at the end of September 2020 with a closing event in Augsburg.

Standard measuring methods expandable
In urban conurbations, in particular, air pollutant levels are frequently too high: in 2018 a total of 57 cities (42 % of all measuring stations which were near traffic) nationwide exceeded the permitted nitrogen dioxide limit values of 40 micrograms per cubic metre as seen in the annual average. In 2019 it was still 25 cities (20 % of all measuring stations which were near traffic). Particulate levels are also frequently temporarily above the limit values which is also dependent on the season. Local communes have high quality measuring data but only few measuring stations belonging to state measuring network operators. As a result of this minimal number and the measuring method used, results are often not in a high resolution with regard to space or time.

Combination of building sensors, drones, weather data, emission recording and much more
What makes the SmartAQnet approach so innovative is its combination of available emission data (for example traffic FOR loops), existing approaches for the simulation of air quality and the pooling of numerous cost efficient and highly precise measuring instruments. These range from sensors fixed to buildings near traffic, unmanned drones for ad hoc measurements and remote sensoring data to a mobile measuring strategy involving bicycles and trolleys moving through the city. Since 2017, the more than 100 sensors and measuring instruments of varying quality levels have, with collective intelligence, collected several million datasets on an area of 10 x 10 km in Augsburg's urban area. This has provided a more precise depiction of measurements than few, very finely adjusted measuring instruments would ever have achieved. In a central online database on the project website www.smartaq.net, real time particulate measurements from low and high air layers are compiled in relationship with meteorological data and made accessible for everyone. This means that the measuring network is not only more transparent but also more precise and comparatively inexpensive.

Smart City: the healthiest jogging path and clever, data-driven traffic flow
Air quality signifies quality of life. Nitrous gases and aerosol particles can lead to an irritation of the mucous membrane of the airways and lungs as well as cardiovascular diseases and scientists are researching the relationship between the mortality rate and traffic-related particulate concentration. The question of whether particles originate from other regions or local industry, depending on the weather, instead of the city's busy roads also requires further examination for each individual case. The collection and allocation of immission data which is as precise as possible is therefore essential - in addition to and supporting the existing state measuring stations on a communal level. In this way, the public can be provided with valid recommended action or ad hoc alerts on "immission hotspots" on the basis of an improved "measurement reality" - and not primarily originating from calculation models. It is then possible to establish, for example, the best time of day with regard to air quality for jogging on a preferred route. Or the best cycle route for getting to work in the middle of rush hour. Also, would it be better to avoid the town centre today when shopping? There are also many options when it comes to real time traffic planning with the detour of busy road sections if there is a danger of limit values being exceeded. Furthermore, data integration into navigation instruments or self-driving cars is also possible or coupling with digital traffic signs as well as traffic lights - as a milestone on the path to the smart city of the future.

The participants of the SmartAQnet consortium:

  • City of Augsburg (associated partners)
  • University of Augsburg (Institute of Geography / IGUA)
  • Aerosol Akademie e.V.
  • Karlsruher Institute of Technology (KIT): Telecooperation Office (TECO) - Technology for Pervasive Computing und Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research - Atmospheric Environmental Research (IMK-IFU)
  • Helmholtz Zentrum Munich - German Research Centre for Environmental Health (HMGU-EPI and HMGU-CMA)
  • GRIMM Aerosol Technology (co-initiator of project)

The DURAG GROUP based in Hamburg is a worldwide operating group of companies and one of the market leaders for intelligent solutions in the fields of environmental and ambient air monitoring and data management as well as combustion systems and safety installations for reliable industrial combustion processes. With almost 500 employees, the group's subsidiaries offer modern technology, certified equipment and reliable services tailored to the individual needs of worldwide customers. GRIMM Aerosol Technik Ainring GmbH & Co. KG has been a part of the DURAG GROUP since 2015. The company, with headquarters in Ainring, Germany, is one of the world's leading manufacturers of instruments for measuring particulates.


Press contact
Stefan Meyer (Head of Strategic Marketing)
Tel.: +49(40)554218-1152
E-mail: stefan.meyer@durag.com

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