Unpacking Seven Key Trends in Air Quality Data Personalization

Public demand for reliable and relevant air quality data is on the rise. Here are seven key trends in consumer data personalization that have emerged in response.

Air pollution is having an increasingly detrimental effect on the health of people and the planet alike. Over 90 percent of the global population lives in areas with unhealthy air quality, putting sensitive groups like small children, pregnant women, and individuals with asthma or heart disease at immediate risk — and nearly everyone else at risk over the long term.

And while we still don’t understand the full breadth of the adverse effects of a lifetime of breathing polluted air, some early research suggests it can reduce an individual’s lifespan by two years or more, depending on where they live. What is clear is that air pollution is a global crisis, but fortunately, staying out of harm’s way is simpler than one might think.

Taking steps such as rolling up car windows while driving through a polluted part of town or turning on an air purifier during an extra-smoggy hour in the afternoon can be enough to stay safe from the harmful effects of unhealthy air. Of course, in order to know when to take these precautionary measures, consumers need access to complete, reliable air quality data — an “eye test” won’t always suffice.

As consumers have started taking an interest in personal insights they can translate into better lifestyle habits and improved health outcomes, demand for good air quality data has skyrocketed. Below, we explore seven of the key consumer data personalization trends in air quality data that have emerged in response to this shifting consumer landscape.

1. Real-Time Data

Air quality is a highly dynamic metric, which means consumers need to be able to monitor its fluctuations on a daily or even hourly basis. In fact, consumers are 2.4 times more likely to open a weather app multiple times per day if it includes air quality data than if it does not. As such, the ability of a product or service to drive consumer engagement around air quality data hinges on the extent to which it delivers this data in real time.

Traditionally, providing the general public with real-time air quality data has been a challenge, first and foremost because there are often delays in transferring data collected at monitoring stations to end-users’ devices. Encouragingly, recent improvements in machine learning have significantly reduced the time it takes to transform source data into digestible, consumer-facing information.

2. Hyperlocal Data

In the past, air quality data providers only offered citywide data. However, as industry experts have pointed out, air quality data is hyperlocal, which means it can vary neighborhood-by-neighborhood or even block-by-block. The pollution level in one part of a city might be completely different from that in another part of the city, even if the two areas are less than a quarter-mile away from each other.

Accounting for this hyperlocal variance can produce significant value in the air purification and HVAC industries, among others. For example, a smart air purifier that utilizes location-based air quality data might recognize that a neighborhood is experiencing a spike in pollutants, and based on this insight, automatically shut windows and start purifying the air inside a home.

3. Data personalization

Consumers seek air quality data that is relevant to their own lifestyles and needs, but since no two people are the same, there’s no one-size-fits-all method for keeping individuals informed about local air quality. That said, air quality data providers can improve the personalization of their products and services by tailoring them to the needs of their customer segments.

At BreezoMeter, we’ve identified elderly citizens, pregnant women, children and babies, heart disease patients, lung disease patients, and athletes as key segments of the public that are especially sensitive to air pollution. That said, members of the public who do not fall into any of these groups still have unique needs when it comes to engaging with air quality data, and businesses that wish to offer their customers an engaging and personalized experience can create their own segments and offer information and recommendations accordingly.

4. Pollen Data

Many air quality data providers have started making a concerted effort to gather data on pollen, a natural air pollutant that is the trigger for most seasonal allergies. Speaking to all three trends highlighted above, consumers suffering from seasonal allergies need hyperlocal pollen data delivered in real time if they are to manage their symptoms effectively and spend more time outdoors.

5. A Global Air Quality Index

Because air quality is expensive to monitor, it has traditionally fallen to government authorities to gather air quality data. Unfortunately, as new information about air quality has surfaced, government-provided air quality indexing (AQI) has become increasingly unsatisfactory. Not every country measures its air using the same methods, and as a result, countries with near-identical air quality may report completely different facts about their local air pollution.

The lack of international agreement on what should be monitored and how to display the data that is collected has led to calls for a universal standard air quality index. That’s why BreezoMeter developed a universal AQI that monitors pollutant concentrations on a global scale by taking the average of all six major pollutants.

6. Air Quality Heat Maps

Air quality and pollen data isn’t all about the numbers; companies that wish to incorporate this data into their products can leverage their creative resources to make an APP or service stand out, both functionally and visually.  Though the end user can’t always relate directly to raw data, presented as such, state-of-the-art visualizations can effectively make the invisible visible — far beyond just plain numbers and colors. For example, interactive heat maps that use colors to display pollutant levels, show local and global data in real time, and can be customized to offer air quality information in a personalized format, offer straightforward air quality and pollen information in a format consumers can easily act on.

7. Smart Home Automation

In the era of climate change and rising CO₂ levels, many consumers expect their Internet of Things (IoT) devices to improve the air quality within their homes. We’ve already mentioned that air quality data is being integrated into air purification and HVAC systems, but it is also being added to many other smart home devices.

For instance, smart air quality sensors are designed to detect elevated levels of pollution in the air and relay this information back to users via smartphone apps. The market for these sensors has expanded dramatically as access to reliable air quality data has improved. In fact, industry experts predict this market will grow at a 21 percent CAGR until 2022, at which point it will reach $60 billion.

Charting a Course to Better Air Quality Data

Against the backdrop of these seven trends, the monitoring and delivery of reliable and personalized air quality data is rapidly improving. As a leader in this space, we at BreezoMeter are always eager to keep our customers up to date on the latest developments in all things air quality and pollen data. To learn more about the industry goings-on outlined above, check out our recent webinar, “7 Air Quality Data Trends Businesses Need to Know.”

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Amalia Helen
Amalia Helen

Content Lead @BreezoMeter. Passionate about environmental issues and the power of IoT, big data and connected technologies to solve the big problems of our day. Drop me a line by email or connect on LinkedIn.