Urban Tech Startups vs. Air Pollution : Game, Set and Match
At Plume Labs, we believe that we’re not helpless against air pollution. Like us, dozens of startups, civic innovators and NGOs across Europe think cutting-edge technologies can help solve the problem of air pollution. We found their ideas brilliant and positive, and therefore invited them to pitch at Google’s Campus London two weeks ago. Brace yourselves, harmful emissions! Our community of urban tech innovators likes to dream big and is working to change the air that city dwellers breathe.
Wanna know what exactly happened at the event?
Dr Audrey de Nazelle, researcher at the Center for Environmental Policy at the Imperial College, greatly introduced the day, stressing that new technologies have “the potential to revolutionize the way air pollution research and policy are conducted, with a more efficient people-focused approach”. Here are some of these technologies.
Predictive technologies to beat air pollution
We took the opportunity to introduce the newest version of Plume Air Report, our urban air forecast app for Android, iPhone and now the Apple Watch that helps runners, cyclists, parents and commuters stay safe and keep track of air pollution — right from their wrist. For more details on Plume Air Report, take a breath here. 😉 Predictive technologies are also helping improve public transportation. QuantumBlack, a data science agency, applies techniques it pioneered for Formula 1 to the CrossRail project, helping expand the tube network in London. At TravelAI, artificial intelligence technologies are used to optimize our urban journeys, thus making it possible to gather information on how we move and help policy makers improve public transit.
Do-it-yourself energy for clean air
Information technologies can make cities cleaner but they’re also a source of energy consumption. According to Thomas Garnier, CEO of Defab, “the Internet emits as much CO2 as global air traffic” — and he wants to change that. The Paris-based startup replaces data centers with a lightweight grid computing platform which heats up water they then provide to consumers for free. Technology can also help harness new sources of energy: Pavegen builds pavement tiles that harvest energy from footsteps and turn it into electricity — using, according to co-founder Jonathan Keeling, “the most natural source of energy: ours”. Bringing sustainable technologies to scale is the goal of Bethnal Green Ventures. The accelerator for startups using technology to environmental issues has already incubated 65 teams.
Smart mobility for efficient cities
Because cars are such an important source of emissions, our air needs smarter transportation options. London-based Gliide provides businesses and consumers with a zero-emission alternative to cabs. Paris-based startup Drust builds and commercializes a connected device that connects to any car and gives drivers advice on how to reduce their gas bill, drive safer – and cut on carbon emissions. Thus, Nimber is introducing sharing economy principles to the package delivery market : its app helps you send stuff via someone driving that way – hence taking vans and trucks out of the streets.
The coming urban revolution
In the conclusion keynote, Mathieu Lefevre, Executive Director of the New Cities Foundation, called on policy makers to support the new technological solutions that urban innovators are developing to tackle global issues: “the urban tech revolution is coming — and it is happening everywhere. Urban innovators are the key to drive progress in this new era.”
If you feel like an urban innovator or just would like to share some thoughts on the topic, please feel free to contact us. And join our community on Twitter and Facebook to stay tuned for our upcoming events!