Air pollution mapping enters a new tech era

EDF and Google revolutionize how climate-harming gas leaks are measured

Google Street View car

Vehicles equipped with measurement technologies make it easier for drivers to collect data for leak detection, lowering costs.

Photo credit: Mathew Grimm

EDF and Google Earth Outreach are announcing the first results of a pilot partnership to explore and unlock the potential of new sensing and analytical technologies to measure key environmental data, and to make that data more widely available.

The initial project uses sensors attached to Google Street View cars to create detailed maps of places where natural gas is leaking from utility pipes under city streets. This was a complex challenge that required multidisciplinary skills, perspective and resources. 

Together, we’re also working closely with natural gas utilities and their state and local regulators to turn these findings into actions that solve the problem.

An interdisciplinary collaboration

Our core project team includes:

  • EDF. We convened, envisioned and planned the project, as part of our overall goal to reduce methane’s impact on the climate.
  • Google provided vehicles mounted with air-quality sensors. Their mapping technology allows the data to be visualized in a user-friendly way.
  • Colorado State University collaborated with us to analyze the data and help group leaks by environmental risk.
  • Utility companies, including National Grid, shared leak data which allowed us to perform validation analyses.

This information will help gas companies prioritize where to repair leaks and upgrade pipelines, and provides a powerful advocacy tool to accelerate the process.

This project is just the latest in a long series of innovative EDF collaborations that help us solve problems on a greater scale.

Media contacts

  • Anna Geismar
    (512) 691-3468 (office)
  • Jon Coifman
    (212) 616-1325 (office)
    (917) 575-1885 (cell)

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