A new sensor network helps manage air quality problems

News 16.01.2020

By reducing particulate emissions caused by traffic in urban areas by one tonne, achieved health benefits sum up to 140,000 euros. Particulates in outdoor air cause approximately 1,800 premature deaths in Finland annually.

An air quality measurement system developed in the Helsinki Air Quality Testbed project provides more accurate information about air quality in the Helsinki metropolitan area. Air quality is a serious problem globally, which means there is worldwide demand for accurate measurement devices.

In the HAQT project, new air quality measurement sensors were installed alongside existing measurement stations in the Helsinki metropolitan area. The sensors developed by Vaisala and Pegasor immediately demonstrated their functionality.

“The project piloted supplementing the traditional measurement station network with air quality sensors and nanoparticle monitors. We were able to demonstrate the functionality of this new concept, that is, its benefits in air protection and air quality forecast models”, says Vaisala’s Business Development Manager Mikko Laakso.

The Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority, HSY, plans to continue making use of the sensor network after the project ends. HSY already used the new technology’s sensors during the project to make street dust prevention more accurate, among other things. 

Bad air quality is a serious problem worldwide that requires action around the world in order to be solved. Mikko Laakso highlights that the project has also succeeded in raising awareness of air quality problems and in giving rise to other projects whose effects can spread around the world.

One of the most significant of these is the EU-funded HOPE (Healthy Outdoors Premises for Everyone) project, coordinated by the City of Helsinki. Among other things, the project explores the potential of the 5G network in measuring air quality. According to Laakso, there is a lot of demand abroad for the lessons learned from Finnish projects.

“The network implemented in this project has served as a good reference when we have presented our solutions to interested parties. We have sold similar sensors to various locations around the world. In general, it’s great how Finnish expertise can help prevent diseases and deaths caused by poor air quality”, says Laakso.