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The Story of MappAir® By Dr. Antoine Jeanjean

To celebrate the launch of MappAir® our Head of Modelling, Dr. Antoine Jeanjean takes us through the MappAir®development journey.

The Beginnings

I moved on to England in 2011 to pursue a speciality in space telecommunication where I began my MSc in Space Science and Engineering at the University College London due to my passion for all things space.

I then joined the University of Leicester (UoL) in 2013 to develop an air quality model during my PhD, initially looking at the benefits of urban trees on air pollution using a complex modelling technique called computational fluid dynamics (CFD).

map showing air pollution around trees and built up environments in Leicester
CFD model of air pollution around trees in Leicester

The Idea of MappAir®

Roland Leigh, now Technical Director at EarthSense was my thesis supervisor at the time and we worked closely on the modelling side of air pollution, particularly, CFD and a project called uTRAQ -funded by the European Space Agency. This involved the integration of air quality data from space in a real-time urban model.

My research focussed on dispersion of traffic emissions in the city of Leicester using CFD to predict pollutant concentrations across the city and how these are influenced by the shape of building, trees and weather conditions. It was here that the idea of MappAir® began to take shape.

I developed MappAir® with the idea to provide accurate, high resolution air quality data for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) nationally on an hourly, real-time basis.

EarthSense was Born

With over 15 years invested at the university researching and developing ideas, there was a clear view to launch a commercial air quality company. Together with the backing of the University of Leicester and Bluesky International Ltd, EarthSense was founded in 2016 - around the time that I completed my PhD. I got offered the Head of Modelling position at the company and joined as one of the first employees - leading delivery of modelling activities.

MappAir® Development at EarthSense

Project ACCRA (Autonomous and Connected Vehicles for CleaneR Air) started in 2017 and was the first full scale project that utilised the real time MappAir® product. I began mapping air pollution in real time on a street-by-street scale – a significant advance on anything else available on the market at that time.

The project, involving Leeds City Council integrated traffic data, CFD for street canyon tracking and use of mobile and static EarthSense Zephyr® air quality sensors all feeding into an intelligent transport system.

Successful completion of this project meant that we were able to offer an enhanced resolution (10m) MappAir® product for entire cities by using CFD street canyon parameterisation. From here MappAir® continued to develop and learning algorithms are constantly improving model predictions by comparing outputs to monitoring stations.

Map of air pollution in Leeds City Centre
Project ACCRA: Air Quality modelling in Leeds City Centre

MappAir® Today

The MappAir® product is now backed by years of research and development and enhanced to include a global product providing air pollution for any city in the world including 3-day forecasts and historic information.

We have also introduced new pollution species to the model which now includes nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), sulphur dioxide (SO2), PM2.5 and PM10.

MappAir® Global

Full global coverage, every hour for 5 species (NO2, O3, SO2, PM2.5 & PM10).

MappAir® National

Currently running for the whole of the UK, every hour at a 100m resolution for 2 species (NO2 & PM2.5)

MappAir® City

Currently running for a number of cities worldwide at 10m or higher resolution for 2 species (NO2 & PM2.5)

We are constantly evolving MappAir® to meet the needs of our customers. In Autumn 2018 we introduced an industry first historical dataset to the MappAir® product giving a view of air pollution in the UK for years 2014-2017 as an annual mean for PM2.5 and NO2. This allows us to view air quality trends over time and helps us evaluate the effectiveness of mitigation strategies.

Although MappAir® is a stand-alone product, it can be used alongside our Zephyr® air quality sensors to critically understand the relevance of point measurement and isolate any impacts of small-scale interventions.

Today we have a growing MappAir® client base who are keen to adopt new technologies for gaining valuable air quality information. Our increasing in-house technical expertise support a whole host of users includes environmental planners working for councils, to health services and intelligent transport systems providing a visual understanding of air pollution.

The Future of MappAir®

The ambition for MappAir® is to deliver high accuracy air quality information in real-time with a multi-week forecast anywhere on the globe at an unprecedented resolution allowing street-by-street understanding.

With the number of Zephyr® sensors in the field increasing around the world it provides us with more validation points for model enhancement and confidence in the MappAir® model.

You can expect to see some exciting new MappAir® applications later this year!

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