Real-time pollution maps for Europe

Real-time pollution maps for Europe

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France: Real time maps of air, ground and water pollution across Europe can now be made available to everyone following the launch of an EU-funded research project named INTAMAP.

The INTAMAP project has developed open specifications software to draw up contour maps that not only show the exact location of polluted areas but also illustrate where pollution is coming from and where it is headed.

Researchers from Austria, Belgium, Germany, Greece, The Netherlands and the UK worked on the project which received some EUR 1.8 million in EU funding. Applying ICT research to benefit Europe’s citizens and businesses is a key element of the Digital Agenda for Europe adopted by the Commission in May 2010.

Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda, said, “The INTAMAP project is a good example of how research can help to improve everyday life in Europe. Real time pollution maps can be a crucially important tool for public authorities to identify the sources of pollution and how best to tackle it. It can also help individuals to avoid pollution such as smog.”

Until now, if there was an oil spill in European waters, measurements could show the exact area affected by the pollution but it was often not clear how much pollution was involved or where it was coming from. Without this information, it was difficult for public authorities to act quickly to tackle the pollution effectively.

Researchers in the INTAMAP project developed software which uses measurements taken at specific places to create an online contour map, to show the concentration of pollutants updated in real time. Using so-called “interpolation” methods, this map shows what is happening between the measurement points and therefore gives a more accurate picture.

The open-source interpolation software at the core of the project links to the outside world through web services. For instance, the system accepts raw data published on the web using open standards developed by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC).

Once the data has been processed, web services that also conform to OGC standards can create maps automatically, display them on the web and update them as needed.

The German radiation protection authority (Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz) is now using the INTAMAP system to visualise hourly readings of gamma-type nuclear radiation provided by the European Radiological Data Exchange Platform (EURDEP).

Source: Click Green