New York City operates over 30,000 city-owned vehicles, the largest municipal fleet in the country. Police cars, fire engines, and public buses drive up and down the city streets performing their public services duties. But what if while completing their routine routes, doing their regular jobs, these vehicles were doubling as mobile air pollution monitoring networks?
In January, the New York City’s Mayor’s Office announced CityScanner, a new pilot program that will use city fleet vehicles to measure local air quality. Municipal vehicles mounted with state-of-the-art sensors developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will collect hyperlocal data as they drive around the Bronx. This pilot will help determine the tremendous potential that innovative technologies hold for improving our understanding of air pollution.
New York City’s pilot is the latest example of how municipalities are prioritizing air pollution in unprecedented ways. This momentum is in part due to technological advancements that are revolutionizing the ability to measure air pollution at the neighborhood scale.
If it works in New York, we wouldn’t be surprised if other cities start transforming their public vehicles into air pollution monitors too.