Degrading Air Quality Boosts Opportunities for IBM, Microsoft

Degrading Air Quality Boosts Opportunities for IBM, Microsoft

IBM and Microsoft are competing to take advantage of the newly-developed market for air quality forecasting technology. In December 2015, China’s capital Beijing issued two red alerts over the expectation of extreme smog covering the city for over three days. To issue such alerts, the government requires advanced technologies to forecast pollution. This is extremely significant for continuous enhancement to examine and supervise the smog issues.

The government’s interest in maintaining the air quality of the nation is also at its peak since it will be hosting the Winter Olympic Games in 2022 and during the cold weather; Beijing’s smog level is at its worse. “If you can predict the weather, it only takes a few more variables to predict air quality. Most of the time pollutant emissions don’t vary very rapidly,” said Robert Rohde of US-based Berkeley Earth, which is a non-profit organization that keeps a track of China’s real-time air pollution.

Technological advancements in the field of cognitive computing have enabled 10-day advance prediction of air quality using highly sophisticated forecasting software. The predictions are made by analyzing information available on weather, traffic, land use and real-time pollution levels from government monitoring stations as well as even social media sites. These predictions are instrumental in formulating a plan to restrict vehicles, delay sports events as well as shut down schools, polluting factories and airports.

Beijing’s environmental protection bureau was IBM’s foremost customer, allowing the city to issue color-coded pollution alerts.