Google's testing pollution-sensing gear in its Street View cars

A firm that builds environmental sensors is teaming up with Google to turn Street View cars into mobile pollution sniffers. Three of the search engine's mapping vehicles have been equipped with hardware to measure harmful compounds in the atmosphere including carbon monoxide, methane and VOCs. It's early days, but it's hoped that Google will be able to add this information to its maps, enabling people to see detailed air quality reports for their neighborhood. That way, you could plan your next jog to avoid trouble spots and authorities can visualize where they need to direct their clean-up efforts.

The pairing has already tested the system out in Denver with the assistance of the EPA, who is similarly excited in the project's potential. In just a month of driving around, the three vehicles managed to collect 150 million data points over 750 hours of driving. In the Fall, the experiments will move to San Francisco where local scientists and communities will be invited to design ways that the information can be used in future.