28 Oct

Air Portal - Atmospheric Quality Monitoring and Forecasting

  • Intelligent Software Applications

The air pollution problem:

Currently more people live in urban areas than ever before and since 2007, the global urban population exceeds the global rural population. It is expected that the global urban population will grow further from the current 54% to 66% in 2050. At the same time these growing urban areas are vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Urban climate change related risks are increasing, including rising sea levels and storm surges, heat stress, extreme precipitation, drought, increased aridity, water scarcity and air pollution. These increasing risks have a negative impact on local and national economies, ecosystems and people living in urban environments.

Several large European Cities identified air pollution as the most urgent environmental challenge. Increasing urbanization in combination with intense traffic and industry leads to air quality problems across Europe, but especially in southern and eastern European countries near the Mediterranean where due to meteorological conditions (cloud-free conditions leading to high solar radiation intensity) the region is particularly sensitive to air pollution.

Our solution: Air Portal

Given the challenge above, we have performed a feasibility study of a generic Air Quality Dashboard for various European cities, called AIR-Portal. Part of this study was building a local Air Quality Model to feed the dashboard with air quality predictions. This Proof of Concept of an Air Quality Model combines satellite data, regional air quality predictions, land use information, and local monitoring data into Air Quality predictions on an urban scale.

The Air Quality Model results (both current and forecasted levels) are presented in the dashboard on a street level resolution. The presented results can be used in decision-making processes for the involved cities and to inform the public on air quality on a local scale (approx. 100 meter resolution). The feasibility of the dashboard was studied by answering the questions regarding the technical (“can we develop the dashboard?”), scientific (“Are results reliable?”) and economic (“Can we make money with it in the future?”) feasibility.

The AIR Portal performance is very promising, and all questions posted above have been answered positively. Further development and validation of the model are ongoing, as well as conversations with future customers.


The AIR-Portal POC has been developed by a consortium of Arcadis, S[&]T and KNMI. The study was complemented by the partnership with three major European cities: Amsterdam, Athens and Lyon.


The architecture of the AIR-Portal consists of three main parts:

Ingestion: Air quality data is collected from external sources including CAMS regional air quality data, OpenstreetMap GIS data on land use, measurement sensor data, traffic data and AIR-Portal web interface for qualitative user feedback. The ingested data is stored in a database.

Processing and storage:  The Analyzer is the next element in the data flow and it is the core component in the AIR-Portal software. It retrieves the data from the database and using the implemented mathematical algorithms will perform data processing on it. Resulting air quality data are stored in the database and from there made available for dissemination.

Dissemination: Data can be disseminated via either a web portal, mobile application, or to 3rd parties.


In addition to providing services, S[&]T is also involved in developing new scientific methods to improve the monitoring of global Air Quality. One of such projects is AURORA. 

AURORA is a space research project funded by the European Community‘s H2020 programme in the field of Earth Observation. 

The project was launched on 1 February 2016, with a 36-month duration.

AURORA’s overall objective is to use the different tools of the Sentinel-4 and Sentinel-5 missions of the Copernicus programme to monitor the profile of ozone in the atmosphere with unprecedented accuracy. In particular, it covers the lower layers of the atmosphere over Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, where ozone action acts as a pollutant and as a greenhouse gas.

The project will use innovative methods to combine the information measured by the various tools, short-term forecasting models, a web-GIS that will allow access to data and a database with state of the art techniques for big-data management. This combination will stimulate development of innovative downstream applications with high commercial potential.

The project will develop two examples of commercial applications in the field of preventive health care, based on near real time monitoring and on short-term forecasts of ozone pollution. The first deals with ozone pollution in the lower troposphere and in the boundary layer and the second with dosimetry of UV radiation.

For more information, you can refer to Aurora's website here:  http://www.aurora-copernicus.eu/