What you’ll find in this eBook

Let us guess: You’ve started looking into options for air quality integration and can’t make heads and tails of the differences between the air quality data providers out there. 

Isn’t the air we breathe the same regardless of the provider you look at? Couldn’t you make things easier for yourself and opt for a freely available source of information?

Why We Created this eBook

Air quality is a complicated topic. Unless you've studied the subject at degree level, it can be pretty confusing to understand how to compare providers and which factors really matter.

This guide is designed to clear up any confusion. We’ll cover the questions you should think about before committing to any air quality data integration. Any provider you ultimately choose should be based upon your specific business needs.

Goodluck on your integration journey!

Air quality isn’t like the weather. It drastically changes from one street to the next, in addition to from one hour to the next. When it comes to breathing you can’t afford to get it wrong, so if you’re looking to leverage air quality information for a consumer-facing experience, there’s no skipping the due diligence here: It could mean the difference between huge engagement or floods of customer complaints and reputational damage.

(!) What You Need to Know about Sensor-Only Information

 

Sources of air quality information that rely on sensor-only information alone (whether official or low-cost sensors) means you’ll be limited when it comes to providing real-time actionable information. 

 

This is because:

  • Official monitoring stations typically report data with a delay of multiple hours.
  • Physical sensors only provide reliable information at their exact location and not the spaces in between.
  • Not all stations measure all pollutants, so you may end up with only a partial picture of the pollution situation even at the location of a monitoring station or particular sensor. 

Recommendation: Look for a provider that goes beyond sensor reporting & offers a guarantee of real-time accuracy in addition to street-level resolution.  Evidence of real-time accuracy-validation and external scientific validation from trusted sources is a must.

 

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Wildfires present significant air quality reporting challenges for many providers as they move extremely rapidly and unpredictably. If physical sensors are too far apart or reporting is delayed, they’ll fail to catch the dynamic picture on the ground. It’s also common for monitoring stations to become damaged or go offline during extreme wildfire events.

Recommendation: Look for evidence of real-time smoke reporting and make sure any source you turn to includes real-time and street-level PM2.5 reporting.

Traffic is an important part of why air quality fluctuates so much. As a rule of thumb, the higher the traffic density, the higher the air pollution at that particular location. 

For cleaner route-planning, live air quality information along the roads is a must. Healthcare and indoor air use cases also often need high-resolution traffic pollution information to provide reliable insights. 

Recommendation: Look for specific evidence of real-time traffic pollution reporting and make sure any source you turn to includes NO2 reporting.

 

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If you need air quality information for more than one country, you should think not just in terms of coverage but also the way that different countries report on air quality. 

Different countries use different Air Quality Index scales, so it won’t work to simply apply the AQI scale used by one country in another if you’re planning to present this information to consumers.

Recommendation: Ensure the air quality provider offers coverage for all the areas you’re interested in and offers local air quality index reporting for those countries.

Whether you are planning to make use of air quality data for a product integration, marketing campaign, or research project, an unpredicted outage could prove extremely costly to your business, and significantly impact your user engagement efforts.

 

Recommendation: Look for a data uptime guarantee and examine whether the air quality data provider offers a comprehensive SLA in the event you need urgent assistance.

This will probably be important for consumer focused experiences. Air quality is an extremely complicated subject matter to understand, so helping audiences to visualize what good or poor air quality actually looks like will help to communicate messages more powerfully.

Recommendation: Check if the provider offers visualization of air quality (e.g. heatmaps). You should check the quality of these visualizations and ability to customize them to be consistent with your own brand. For maximum engagement, you should also examine whether these visualizations can be personalized and made interactive when presenting them to your audience.

 

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Different population groups are sensitive to different air pollutants - we often find that businesses will want to reflect this fact by tailoring any air quality health recommendations they deliver to specific user groups (e.g. elderly, pregnant, children).

Recommendation:  If you’re interested in presenting health recommendations to individuals, you should ask the air quality data provider about this. If this is something they offer, it’s important to confirm both that the health recommendations are science-based and that the air quality data behind these recommendations is reliable enough (see point 1 in the eBook

If you’re testing out innovative new ideas and planning to roll out a new IoT initiative, you’ll likely want a data partner that understands what you’re trying to achieve and can help you to establish a minimum viable product.

Recommendation:  Ask whether or not the company can lend any particular experience and expertise to your project - it’s a good idea at this point to ask if they’ve got experience in this area and whether or not they can share any case studies to help your creative juices start flowing.

This may seem like a strange one but something you should consider carefully if business support is likely to be important to you. For example, governmental sources of air quality information will not provide any direct line of support if you have particular questions or needs, or if something goes wrong.

Recommendation:  Ask for confirmation of a Service Level Agreement, support response times and clarify whether or not you’ll receive a dedicated account manager. It’s also worth exploring whether or not the company has experience (and positive testimonials) based on work they’ve done with similar companies.

Different providers of data will vary in their terms when it comes to reproduction, selling, publicly displaying air quality data, and more. In addition, many providers will pull information from open data sources without the necessary legal rights to resell for commercial purposes. This means, without due diligence, you could be placed in a non-compliance position.

Recommendation:  If you’re planning to use air quality data for commercial purposes, you should double-check that the terms and conditions cover this. Even if you do have legal rights to use the information, you need to confirm precisely what this covers.

 

Your air quality data decision now should be informed in part by your business roadmap and direction. If there’s a chance you’ll need additional environmental context, you should choose a data provider that gives you the option to easily expand and scale.

Recommendation: Investigate additional environmental products offered by the provider and consider how they might be worked into your future strategy. At this point, it might also be asking the air quality data provider about their future innovation plans and new feature releases.

Your budget will clearly play a factor when it comes to choosing your air quality data partner. Given the potentially huge implications of integrating air quality information that doesn’t fit your needs (i.e. failed projects, wasted time, unhappy customers), this decision should be based ultimately on a needs-cost and scenario planning analysis.

Recommendation: API integration costs can often be tailored based on your needs, in addition to the type of features and coverage you expect to use. You should also think about your end-user goals. For example, will it be enough to simply inform users about the air they're breathing in real-time? Or do you want to help users take proactive measures to avoid pollution exposure in advance?

Once you’re satisfied that a provider could meet your basic requirements, ask them for pricing based on your needs, use case and goals as outlined here.

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