Google Maps now offers a new feature called the Air Quality Index or AQI. It is available to both iOS and Android users. The feature can be helpful for a user planning a hike, bike ride, or camping trip. Besides providing information about the best places to enjoy fresh air, it also warns users away from areas with smog and smoke. Additionally, it is very beneficial for detecting the spread of wildfires.
More details on Google Maps’ Air Quality Index
Furthermore, Google Maps displays the AQI directly over the map grip using data from government agencies like the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) in the US. The agency offers data on how healthy the air is in a particular location.
In addition, it presents data collected from PurpleAir’s network of sensors, reporting street-level hyperlocal conditions. The AQI readings dotted around the map offer additional information. It includes the health impact of the air quality, the time and source of the last reading, and links to more information.
PupleAir’s network sensors are low-cost (relatively) and measure air particulates using laser particle counters. The sensors throw a laser through the air so that the particles in the atmosphere reflect that light. “The detectors pick up these reflections,” explained Adrian Dybwad, founder of PurpleAir, back in 2020. Two years before, PurpleAir’s sensors became a popular way to track smoke produced by catastrophic wildfires across the West Coast. In 2021, Google Maps introduced a wildfire layer to the app to track the growing threat of natural calamity.
Besides PurpleAir, another network maps hyperlocal air quality and provides AQI – BreezoMeter. Additionally, Cowboy e-bike owners rely majorly on their company’s data to avoid pollution while commuting since 2021. However, BreezoMeter does not use physical sensors but complex models to gain data resolution of 5 meters (about 16 feet).