Air pollution exposure using Mobile phone-based Activity Patterns

 

Academic Track

The idea

The idea

With an increased awareness of health and economic costs associated with air pollution exposures – from direct health impacts (e.g. 3.1 million deaths per year worldwide), to repercussions on workforce productivity (e.g. projected 82 million lost workdays in Europe in 2025), and difficulties in attracting qualified workforce and tourists in highly polluted cities - there is a real need to tackle air pollution problems in cities more efficiently.

The AirMAP method combines big data from mobile phones and vehicle fleet GPS tracking with air pollution maps to estimate exposures to air pollution in the population. With the proposed approach, we are thus able to assess exposures accounting for people’s movement in space and time, rather than with the usual static approach whereby people are assumed to spend their whole lives at home. This novel approach can enable policy makers to target much more efficiently and cost-effectively air pollution reductions efforts to protect people from air pollution’s adverse effects (including vulnerable populations such as the young or elderly). It also provides a method for epidemiologists and health experts to estimate more precisely and accurately exposures. Epidemiologists are currently unable to study effects of short peak exposures on a large population scale. Thus, our method will improve health effects estimates, and also allow investigations into impacts of short bursts of high exposures that one might encounter for example in daily commutes.

The activity-based exposure method developed in AirMAP has the potential to become the tool of the future for air pollution assessment in research and policy applications. Given today's widespread availability of air pollution maps, it can be applied anywhere around the world. AirMAP can also be developed further, e.g. into a smart phone app, to provide feedback to individuals on their exposures, and to help guide more health-promoting behaviours.

 
 

The Team

AirMAP

Audrey de Nazelle is a lecturer in air pollution at the Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London. She is an expert in health impact assessment and exposure science. Her research is at the intersection of environmental sciences, health behaviour, transportation, and urban planning. Her work aims at guiding decision makers towards health-promoting built environments and policies. Dr. de Nazelle’s work involves novel and holistic approaches to assessing behavioural, environmental and health impacts of urban plans and policies. For example, she was the first to publish a study using smart phones to estimate exposures to air pollution. She holds a PhD and an MS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Environmental Sciences and Engineering, and a Maîtrise in Mathematics from the University of Paris VI Pierre et Marie Curie.

Juan Pablo Orjuela is a modeller and PhD student at the Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London. He holds a MSc in Environmental Technology and Energy Policy from Imperial College London.

Markus Schläpfer is a postdoctoral fellow at the Santa Fe Institute, USA, and a research affiliate at MIT's Senseable City Lab. His main research goal is the development of predictive quantitative models for the dynamics of cities. Markus grounds his research on the increasing availability of large-scale data on human activities such as those automatically collected from mobile phone networks. He holds a PhD in Mechanical Engineering and a MSc in Environmental Engineering, both from ETH Zurich.

 

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