How IBM Is Using Big Data To Battle Air Pollution In Cities .pdf

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12/13/2015

How IBM Is Using Big Data To Battle Air Pollution In Cities

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How IBM Is Using Big Data To Battle Air
Pollution In Cities
"Knowing where pollution is coming from and how much is in the air will drive
action to reduce it."
Alexander Howard
Senior Editor for Technology and Society, The Huffington Post

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  12/09/2015 02:02 pm ET

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For the past year, IBM has been helping Beijing to combat its air pollution crisis
using a data analysis platform called Green Horizons. On Wednesday, Big Blue's

Tech

Research division announced four more partnerships ­­ two in China, one in India
and one in South Africa ­­ to increase the capacity of more urban centers to
measure and monitor air pollution.
When Green Horizons comes to the cities of Baoding, Zhangjiakou, Delhi and
Johannesburg, it will use machine learning to analyze previous weather forecasts,

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crunching data to determine how good those predictions were in different
scenarios, and then build better forecasting models over time. 
Weather conditions have a direct effect upon how city residents experience the
effects of air pollution, from high temperatures increasing ground­level ozone
concentrations to high winds carrying industrial particulates into urban areas.

MORE FROM WHAT'S
WORKING: PURPOSE +
PROFIT

IBM RESEARCH

Green Horizons air quality management for Beijing.

 
"The system constantly learns how can you improve a forecast, when and where,
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/ibm­big­data­air­pollution_56684e44e4b080eddf565510?utm_hp_ref=technology&ir=Technology&section=technology

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12/13/2015

How IBM Is Using Big Data To Battle Air Pollution In Cities

for what part of the city, and under what time horizon," Hendrik Hamann, manager
of physical analytics for IBM Watson, told The Huffington Post. 

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In the video below, you can see a demonstration of the Green Horizons forecasting
system, applying the technology that underpins IBM Watson to predicting the
intensity of air pollution:
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"Knowing where pollution is coming from and how much is in the air will drive action
to reduce it," Bob Perciasepe, president of the Center for Climate and Energy
Solutions, told HuffPost. "Experience shows that when measurement happens,
pollution levels go down and public health is improved. This near­term action

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improves the livability of communities and the wellbeing of citizens."
The news of IBM's expanded collaboration comes during the United Nations
Climate Change Conference in Paris, where representatives from over 190
countries are discussing an historic accord on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
"Once we have an agreement, the world will need to know how each country is
doing at meeting those commitments," said Perciasepe. "Programs like Green
Horizons will help build the capacity for that to happen and in the long term,

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everyone benefits from that."
Using data analysis to more accurately source, model and mitigate air pollution is a
key strategy for combating climate change in urban environments. 
While Beijing's ongoing air pollution problems show that these initiatives are no
panacea on their own, they can help cities focus and improve their responses.
Hamann noted that cities will also have to invest in clean energy generation for the
future.

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"Power plants and industrial activity are major contributors [of air pollution in
Beijing], but even if you take the industrial activity, they are distributed through
surroundings," said Hamann. "Take the example of coal plants: A lot are providing
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/ibm­big­data­air­pollution_56684e44e4b080eddf565510?utm_hp_ref=technology&ir=Technology&section=technology

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12/13/2015

How IBM Is Using Big Data To Battle Air Pollution In Cities

backup generation, to pick up peak loads. When you turn on, how much energy do
you consume? Given these conditions, what can I do on potentially reducing the
energy output of a coal plant?"
IBM Research has developed renewable energy forecasting tools to help cities
understand what other power sources they will have ­­ or need ­­ to supplement or

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replace turning on those plants.

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"My belief is tech is really the solution to many of those problems, from pollution, to
healthy living and a sustainable future," said Hamann. "Through tech like this, we'll
cope with the challenge of so many people living in cities. Think about the city of
Los Angeles, which was heavily polluted in the 1970s. Through technology, the
right policies and catalytic converters, it was completely turned around." 
While southern California still has some of the worst air quality in the United States,
Los Angeles children are getting healthier, due to improvements in the smog. That

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Goldberg Eleanor Goldberg usda food
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outcome was driven by regulations that enforced tougher emissions requirements
on vehicles.
Here's hoping that knowing more about the problems drives more cities towards
solving them.

MORE: COP21, Paris COP21, Climate Change, Ibm, IBM Watson, Data Analysis, Big Data, Weather
Forecasting, What's Working, Purpose + Profit

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12/13/2015

How IBM Is Using Big Data To Battle Air Pollution In Cities

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