This SF tech company is using vehicle-mounted sensors to make a 'Street View' of pollution

Aclima is working with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to develop a hyperlocal pollution map of San Francisco to help enforce and adjust regulations.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt
2 min read

Aclima's program will make it easy to spot areas of higher pollution in San Francisco, leading to better enforcement.

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It's not always easy to be a business owner in California. There are all kinds of regulations that you have to follow or face stiff fines. But some, like pollution laws -- especially if you're a small business -- are a little tougher for the state to enforce, and some people take advantage of that.

A company called Aclima is going to try and change that as part of a partnership with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District by individually measuring each and every street in San Francisco with pollution sensors on vehicles, according to an article published Tuesday by Bloomberg. The idea is these sensors will allow Aclima to build a detailed pollution map of the city and help catch businesses that have decided to toss up the ol' double freedom rockets to the environment.

"This program will bring an unprecedented level of access and visibility to air quality data at the neighborhood level across the entire Bay Area region," Jack Broadbent, executive director for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, said in a statement. "These innovative and powerful new tools will reveal health disparities faced by many in the region and inform lawmakers to better guide the decision-making process to protect the health of all Bay Area residents."

Aclima has also been working with Google on a separate project which saw it installing some of its sensors on Street View cars, which makes perfect sense, given that Street View is already doing that route driving anyway.

"It's designed to give a new level of visibility," Davida Herzl, co-founder and CEO of Aclima, said in an interview with Bloomberg. "This supports diagnosis -- they literally could not see this before -- and then intervention, so they can do something about the pollution."

Of course, Aclima isn't doing this work out of pure altruism. The BAAQMD is paying $6 million for it all, but if it helps make antipollution statutes easier to enforce, it seems like a pretty good deal.

The historic fleet of San Francisco's Maritime National Historical Park

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Correction, 4:03 p.m.: Aclima worked with Google on another project, not the BAAQMD project.