RDA P6 Climate Change Data Challenge Application: Plume Labs

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01 September 2015 2996 reads
Plume Labs represented by Romain Lacombe
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Describe the possible application or solution you are developing and how does it constitute a challenge goal
Plume Labs helps citizens learn, track and forecast what they breathe in order to beat air pollution and lower their exposure to the world’s largest single environmental risk (source: WHO). We are building the Plume Air Report, a free mobile app that provides live air quality forecasts for 60+ major cities around the world, based on open air quality data sources worldwide and the AI and machine-learning based predictive models we are developing on top of this data.
Our predictive models help inform citizens in real-time about the air they breathe, but also predict when air pollutant concentrations are likely to rise or fall. Because there's not much individuals can do to instantly lower city-wide air pollution levels, adapting their personal behavior (when to run, when to cycle, when to avoid personal exposure if you're sensitive or have young children) is an important lever to lower one's exposure to air pollution and its health impact. 
This requires democratizing access to information, which we're doing by providing a very simple and intuitive user experience in our free app (http://bit.ly/PlumeAirReportforiOS or http://plumelabs.com). Most of the value we provide users comes from our forecasts, which would not be possible to build without access to live and historical air quality and weather pattern data.
Using the Climate Change Challenge Datasets to build predictive urban air quality models will help empower citizens to beat air pollution, and help raise awareness of air quality – hence providing support for cleaner cities and more decisive action against climate change.
How will your solution involve the proposed datasets?
The air quality forecasting models we are building are based on a novel approach that mixes atmospheric models and AI/machine learning techniques. We design, train and operate models based on historical data and live feeds from air quality monitoring stations worldwide, including the US EPA dataset and AirNow API.
Our data sources are of course not limited to this dataset. We also collect open data from a wide range of live and historical air quality measurement sources, which we aggregate and make available to citizens for free on the Plume Air Report app and on the web. And our models incorporate historical weather patterns such as wind strength and direction, solar exposure, planetary boundary layer altitude, etc. which impact how pollution evolves on an hourly basis any given day.
This diversity of sources and our use of open data best practices help us build a global product (see map on http://plumelabs.com) to help consumers in the US, the EU but also China, Japan, Korea or South America tackle the global issue of environmental exposure and protect themselves for excess exposure to pollution and its ill health effects.
Which are the datasets integrated in your solution demonstration? Select from the dropdown list.
Code: RDA_ClimateChallenge_epaus_04
What is the expected impact?
Our goal is to lead the urbantech movement towards greener, cleaner, more efficient cities which are also more equitable, walkable/cyclable and livable. Knowing what you breathe at all times and when to avoid excess exposure is an important aspect of environmental health, and we hope to help citizens improve their urban lives.
Transparency on air pollution is also an emerging global issue that reached the top of the agenda in several nations over the past few months – such as in India with the National Green Tribunal or in China with the massive reach of the famed 'Under The Dome' documentary. The global press coverage we've already received when our application showed that PM2.5 concentration levels in Paris had temporarily topped those in Beijing and Shanghai during a particularly intense episode of pollution in March 2015 show that more transparency on the air we breathe is key to raise awareness of the ill effects of air pollution.
And finally, climate change is of course a major environmental challenge, but it's also a policy and international relations challenge: the impact of every ton of CO2 polluting countries emit are distributed and long-term. On the contrary, the impact of air pollution is mostly local and short term. 
Raising awareness of air pollution and its impact on health means citizens will demand more decisive action from international leaders to tackle climate change. Knowing what you breathe is hence an important step towards a carbon-free world.