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Hawa Dawa establishes a local network for measuring air quality in the city of Seelze

Hawa Dawa has been commissioned by the city of Seelze to establish a local network of IoT (Internet of Things) measuring instruments. A total of three Hawa Dawa Sentience air measurement devices will provide hourly values for nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), and particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) in places identified by the city of Seelze as useful.

 In the city of Seelze live 36,000 inhabitants on an area of 54 square kilometres. Seelze neighbours directly to the west on the state capital of Lower Saxony, Hanover. There are no permanently installed public measuring stations in the city of Seelze. Temporary measurements did not show that the official threshold value for NO2 of 40.0 micrograms per m3 was exceeded. Nevertheless, the city of Seelze is aware of the health risks posed by polluted air even below the legal limit and has decided to actively address this problem. The first step is to obtain clarity on the current air quality.

The Hawa Dawa solution for Seelze presents the measured values close to real-time in digital form on an interactive dashboard. Monthly reports provide in-depth insights into patterns and timing, taking into account temperature and wind data. By using Hawa Dawa IoT air measurement devices, Seelze can determine the locations where the measurements will be made, taking into account local requirements. The Hawa Dawa PRO Dashboard used by Seelze enables additional insights on air quality in Seelze to be gained through a heatmap display – after all, information about the places where people are actually staying are crucial.

Karim Tarraf, CEO of Hawa Dawa, explains: “Many smaller to medium-sized cities are in the situation of Seelze, that there are no public measuring stations. The decision-makers do not have up-to-date information on the impact on air quality caused by traffic and other issuers. We believe that local air quality facts are a prerequisite for taking effective action against air pollution and protecting the population. Here, mere measurements are not sufficient, but it is imperative to analyse the data in context. We are pleased to support the city of Seelze in this project.”

Do the positive effects of the Corona Lock-Down offset the health issues caused by the pandemic?

A deeper analysis for Munich

The COVID-19 pandemic has infected about 13 million people and claimed more than 550 thousand deaths worldwide by 14 July 2020. It has been reported in research that high air pollution may be “one of the most important contributors to deaths from COVID-19”. Studies show a positive correlation between particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide to health damage and, more specifically, to diseases related to the lungs like pneumonia, which makes people suffering from these ailments more susceptible to COVID 19. On the other hand, due to the lockdown measures, significant improvement in air quality has been witnessed. Read more

Hawa Dawa provides data-based decision-making platform to reduce urban traffic-induced emissions in Mainz

Better urban air quality does not need drastic measures – but a meaningful database for decisions

Hawa Dawa has been commissioned by Stadtwerke Mainz with an innovative and result-driven project: creating a sustainable data-based decision-making basis. Hawa Dawa will propose stepped measures to improve urban air quality based on their projected impact on air quality, applying data-based analyses, and forecasts. For this purpose, an intelligent infrastructure for collecting environmental and traffic data as well as a data platform for evaluation is established. Read more

The long overdue paradigm shift towards a healthy, carbon neutral economy starts with cleaning our air

Air quality management – a fascinating lineage

I grew up in Cairo. A city that shows all the typical traits of an emerging economy when it comes to air quality and health. I grew up in a household of doctors, who spent their lifetime researching the delicate relationship between the air we breathe and our health. Here is a paper co-written by my dad for The Lancet Journal on the “Effect of nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide on airway response of mild asthmatic patients to allergen inhalation” written back in 1998. So imagine you grow up seeing and hearing about the “Black Cloud” of Cairo and the rise of patient visits in my parents’ clinic around the dinner table. Or discussions on best treatment options for patients during the long drives towards the Egyptian Red Sea coast with its windy fresh air. Thus, I always understood the topic of air pollution within a context – the context of bad health indicators, exacerbated symptoms, increased healthcare expenditures and overall reduced life quality.

The notion that air quality is more than just a concentration value or a legal threshold to adhere to is not new. It is a recurring theme throughout human history.

  • Roman philosopher Seneca in 61 AD stated: “As soon as I had escaped the heavy air of Rome and the stench of its smoky chimneys, which when stirred poured forth whatever pestilent vapours and soot they held enclosed I felt a change in my disposition”
  • Famous polymath Abū Bakr Muḥammad ibn Zakariyyā ar-Rāzī, or as known in the western world as Rhazes, was reported to have hung raw pieces of meat all over the city of Baghdad to investigate the best suitable location to build the largest hospital of the time in the 9th century, choosing the location where the meat remained freshest.
  • Canary birds helping miners to detect carbon monoxides and other toxic gasses before they hurt humans operating in those ghastly conditions.

A fascinating lineage which we commit to follow today

Air pollution knows no boundaries, neither in a geographical sense nor in its sequential impact across all facets of our lives. Today, it has reached a scale beyond all bearing. Its detrimental effects now impact human health, human mobility, climate change and even food security. It is causing more cases of preemptive deaths globally than AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis combined, making it the greatest environmental health risk of our time according to the World Health Organization (WHO).  As such, solving this challenge needs a system approach that qualms the adverse effect of bad air quality across all the above-mentioned sectors.  It is time for a paradigm shift, when it comes how we deal and what we do with air quality data.

As intuitive as it may seem to use air quality data and data-driven insights to optimize everyday processes in ecological terms, the hitherto developed methods, unfortunately, seem to have lost their purpose. Highly sophisticated and expensive apparatus measure air pollution in our cities today. The data is barely accessible, let alone applied to address challenges of public health, mobility, climate change and urban planning on a scale fit for the size of the problem at-hand.  J. Pentreath wrote in 1998: “At present systems for monitoring and gathering information are inefficient and wasteful. They generate excessive amounts of data on subjects which do not need it; They fail to provide timely and relevant information on other subjects where it is urgent.’”

And the urgency has never been stronger and the willingness to act has never been greater. Air pollution has become one of the most important avoidable risk to health globally. Many studies have found harmful effects of air pollution on a continuum of exposure that extends down into levels considered safe by national standards. These effects are noticeable in all bodily systems and not only the lungs. (Read on the excess mortality of COVID-19 through air pollution here).

Short-Lived-Climate-Pollutants

Black Carbon and tropospheric ozone are also considered climate pollutants. They belong to the group of “Short-Lived-Climate Pollutants” (SLCPs). Why are they called “short-lived”? Because their atmospheric lifetime is a fraction of that of CO2.

UNEP and WHO (2011). Integrated Assessment of Black Carbon and Tropospheric Ozone. UNEP, Nairobi

This is both a threat and an opportunity: measures curbing SLCPs generate their impact within weeks, while Methane and CO2 abatement measures require decades, if not centuries. So, by focusing on mitigating air pollution we are tackling a perpetrator that is harming both our health and our climate. In fact, according to the WHO and UNEP, climate change mitigation will only be possible when SLCPs and CO2 are addressed simultaneously.

UNEP and WHO (2011). Integrated Assessment of Black Carbon and Tropospheric Ozone. UNEP, Nairobi

In an effort to internalize environmental aspects in mainstream processes, several companies using comprehensive carbon footprint calculating software to support businesses in reducing their carbon footprint along their core processes. This is greatly needed, but we also need to take air pollution into account when using such tools. 215 of the biggest global companies recently reported that 1trillion$ worth of assets was at risk due to climate impacts in the next five years. They also state that climate business opportunities are calculated at $2.1trillion and we are convinced – for the above reasons – that cleaning our air is the pathway to unlocking this potential.

Converting our world into data and insights

For the first time in human history, the technology exists today to monitor every single emission – of every city, every airport, every harbour, every street, every factory, industry park and wildfire. At our disposal are tools to hold those accountable that do not adhere to environmental commitments and those using their resources lavishly. It forms the basis of understanding the complex intricacies of our planet, the interdependence of our ecosystems.

Exposed number of people vs. actual NO2 concentration

But even better, it forms the basis for new products and services that reward those who take air quality into account when managing (public) health, planning traffic, investing in and building new properties with cleaner air.

Cities at the Forefront of Air Quality: Interview with Karim Tarraf, CEO of Hawa Dawa

In the days of Covid-19, “air quality” is a topic in the media, too. Cities are often pioneers in pushing for improvements. Decisions must be made in complex social contexts and measures must be integrated into larger plans. Here’s an interview with Karim Tarraf, CEO of Hawa Dawa, in which he comments on the following topics:
  • How can the increasing importance of air quality data be explained?
  • Why are the available measurements and data usually insufficient?
  • What does cooperation with cities look like?

(The complete interview is available in German only)

Read more

NO2 concentrations during the lockdown in Munich

I have recently heard people uttering disappointment regarding the rather small effect they have observed at official measurement stations in Munich during the time of the lockdown due to the coronavirus. Looking at the raw hourly measurement traces at different locations in and around Munich, we can see a very clear drop during the initial phase of the lockdown, with concentrations coming up again after that. So we decided to take a deeper look. We considered impacts from weather conditions, season-specific influences as well as mobility behaviour. Read more