Social Media and IoT Being Used to Reduce Air Pollution in China

China is known for many things: the Great Wall, mouth-watering cuisine, panda bears, and rampant air pollution. In fact, a recent study found that 4,400 people die each day in China as a result of air pollution.

The country made a major effort to curb the problem prior to the Olympic Games in Beijing, but the changes did not have a lasting impact and the situation is now just as bad as it was before.

Now, a new collaboration between Beijing’s Environmental Protection Bureau and IBM known as Green Horizons makes use of the Internet of Things (IoT) and cognitive computing to better manage and forecast air quality issues.

Notable Gains in Prediction Accuracy

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is used to create forecasting models that are impressively accurate; the new technology has allowed them to extend their forecasting from two to ten days, while accuracy has climbed from 60 to 80 percent.

Data from social media has played a big role in this improvement. While ground sensors are still the core of such calculations, data from China’s versions of Instagram and Twitter have also been used to form a bigger picture of the overall situation on the ground.

This enables authorities to determine which measures need to be instituted to decrease pollution, and it’s also helping them come up with targeted solutions that can provide lasting change.

So far, Beijing has managed to attain a 20 percent decrease in ultra-fine particulate matter during the first three quarters of last year. Experts caution that there is still a long way to go and they are quick to point out that the weather is one factor that will be difficult to control, but the new system is instilling a sense of hope that the city will be able to meet its goal of reducing particulate matter by 25 percent by the end of next year.