In 2018, Streamr, a live-streaming data network, and Smart Citizen, a platform that connects people and cities through localized data sharing, are teaming up to put pollution monitoring in the hands of the populace. Anyone will be able to access local, real time air-quality stats, be they residents, government representatives or scientists. This will be accomplished by monetizing the air data; households and businesses will host air sensors and will then be paid by those who want to access the gathered knowledge. The sensing initiative will pilot in London and will measure air conditions in terms of particulate and NO2 levels.
Air pollution is a serious environmental issue and health risk worldwide. In the State of Global Air 2018, the Health Effects Institute, a nonprofit research organization based in the U.S., finds that about 95 percent of the world’s population breathes unhealthy air. This stat is defined by areas where fine soot or dust particles in the air exceed the World Health Organization’s Air Quality Guidelines. More than 4 in 10 Americans are breathing air considered unhealthy, according to a 2018 American Lung Association's report. Indoor air pollution is another serious risk around the globe – in households that rely on the burning of solid fuels, indoor air pollution can reportedly exceed safety regulations by as much as 20 times.
The collection, control and dissemination of pollution data are powerful processes. Who is empowered to create and access these information streams? The answer can have a significant impact on how everyday citizens and regulatory bodies react to and engage with the state of their local ecosystem and environmental remediation opportunities.
Henri Pihkala, CEO of Streamr, said:
We are honored to be working with [Smart Citizen] on this showcase project and hope we can create a self-initiating and self-funding, decentralized community information system that could eventually be rolled out across the world.
During this collaboration, the Smart Citizen team will contribute their skills in building user-friendly, open-source sensors and sharing location-specific information. Streamr will offer a decentralized peer-to-peer network – one that is not centralized in a single hub -- to store and control real-time data, allowing those who host sensing equipment to be rewarded. Streamr’s network tokenizes data – it allows it to be securely recorded, shared in real time, and purchased with the DATAcoin token, the digital currency of their network, which is based on the Ethereum blockchain. In this case, once pollution info is collected, it will be sent through WIFI to Streamr’s visual editor and marketplace, where people can pay for the data. Streamr and Smart Citizen hope that by incentivizing community participation in pollution monitoring by providing a monetary reward system for the sensor hosts, they will inspire other local neighborhoods to take part.
One goal of the project is for real-time data to lead to real-time decision making. For example, evidence of air pollution might lead to a re-routing of traffic or a raised reward for ride-sharing.
Challenges remain, such as how to make inviting and easy-to-use front-end applications that seamlessly integrate all the technology and experience the Smart Citizen and Streamr teams have to offer.
According to Malik, Streamr is an “integral part of Fab Cities and the Fab Lab Network,” two initiatives sprung from MIT that focus on supporting self-empowered and innovative sustainable communities, with a focus on urban environments. Smart Citizen was also developed by the Fab Lab network, out of Barcelona.
Streamr will display this project at Consensus 2018, a blockchain tech summit in May in New York City. Smart Citizen founder, Tomas Diez, will be on hand at this event as well. He had this to say about the partnership:
We believe that Streamr and Smart Citizen are a perfect match to enable a more inclusive and accessible Smart City, in which citizens can generate wealth by using open source sensors and have access to data markets that are secure and distributed around the world.
Learn more about how Streamr and Smart Citizen’s offerings work in the videos below.