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Street View Car Map by Google Locates Methane Gas Leaks

Colorado State University biologist Joe Von Fisher helped enable a street view of Methane leaks in the city with the help of Google maps

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Colorado State University
Gas Leak. Wikimedia

August 04, 2017: Finding underground methane gas leaks is now as easy as finding a McDonalds, thanks to a combination of Google Street View cars, mobile methane detectors, some major computing power and a lot of ingenuity.

When a city’s underground gas lines leak, they waste fuel and release invisible plumes of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. To find and measure leaks, Colorado State University biologist Joe von Fischer decided to create “methane maps,” to make it easier for utilities to identify the biggest leaks, and repair them.

“That’s where you get the greatest bang for the buck,” he pointed out, “the greatest pollution reductions per repair.”

Knowing that Google Maps start with Google Street View cars recording everything they drive by, along with their GPS locations, von Fischer’s team thought they would just add methane detectors to a Street View car. It turned out, it was not that simple.

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“Squirrelly objects”

The world’s best methane detectors are accurate in an area the size of a teacup, but methane leaks can be wider than a street. Also, no one had ever measured the size of a methane leak from a moving car.

“If you’ve ever seen a plume of smoke, it’s sort of a lumpy, irregular object,” von Fischer said. “Methane plumes as they come out of the ground are the same, they’re lumpy squirrelly objects.”

The team had to develop a way to capture data about those plumes, one that would be accurate in the real world. They set up a test site in an abandoned airfield near campus and brought in what looked like a large scuba tank filled with methane and some air hoses. Then they released carefully measured methane through the hose as von Fischer drove a specially equipped SUV past it, again and again.

They compared readings from the methane detectors in the SUV to readings from the tank.

“We spend a lot of time driving through the plumes to sort of calibrate the way that those cars see methane plumes that form as methane’s being emitted from the ground,” von Fischer explained.

With that understanding, the methane detectors hit the road.

Also Read: This fiber material can sense odorless fuel leaks


Turning data into maps

But the results created pages of data, “more than 30 million points,” said CSU computer scientist Johnson Kathkikiaran. He knew that all those data points alone would never help people find the biggest leaks on any map. So he and his advisor, Sanmi Peracara, turned the data into pictures using tools from Google.

Their visual summaries made it easy for utility experts to analyze the methane maps, but von Fischer wanted anyone to be able to identify the worst leaks. His teammates at the Environmental Defense Fund met that challenge by incorporating the data into their online maps. Yellow dots indicate a small methane leak. Orange is a medium-sized one. Red means a big leak – as much pollution as one car driving 14,000 kilometers in a single day.

Von Fischer says that if a city focuses on these biggest leaks, repairing just 8 percent of them can reduce methane pollution by a third.

“That becomes a win-win type scenario,” he said, “because we’re not asking polluters to fix everything, but we’re looking for a reduction in overall emissions, and I think we can achieve that in a more cost effective way.”

After analyzing a methane map for the state of New Jersey, for example, the utility PSE&G has prioritized fixing its leakiest pipes there first, to speed the reduction of their overall pollution.

“To me that was a real victory, to be able to help the utility find which parts were leakiest, and to make a cost effective reduction in their overall emissions,” von Fischer said.

Von Fischer envisions, even more, innovation ahead for mapping many kinds of pollution… to clean the air and save energy. (VOA)

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Question Mark over Airtel Delhi Half Marathon amidst Rising Pollution Levels; Will the Event Shift to a New Window?

The Indian Medical Association had called for cancellation of the event a few days ago

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Airtel Delhi Half Marathon
Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (ADHM) is an annual half marathon foot-race held in New Delhi, India (representative image) Pixabay

New Delhi, November 10, 2017 : The alarming levels of pollution in the national capital has forced the organisers of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon to consider shifting the event to a new window.

“There is a possibility to shift this event to a new window… we may organize the event earlier or later. We have the option of the alternative window. We will discuss with our stakeholders and see which will the best window for the event,” said Vivek Singh, Joint Managing Director of the Procam International, the organizers of the event, here on Thursday.

A few days ago, Airtel, who have been one of the prime sponsors of the event for the last nine years, also threatened to pull out of the annual event citing pollution levels in the city but however, came out in support of the organizers on Thursday.

“As always, we will continue to support the event. It is great to see the fantastic response to the call for registration for Airtel Delhi Half Marathon,” said Ravi Negi, CEO of Bharti Airtel, Delhi NCR.

Singh also asserted the foreign athletes have gone back satisfied with the conditions in previous editions of the event.

“All foreign participants are aware of the situation and will participate. Last year, Rio Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge won the event in almost similar conditions and returned without complains,” he said.

“You cannot cancel an international event so easily. Athletes are preparing since last many months and there is no question of cancelling the event.”

The Indian Medical Association had called for cancellation of the event a few days ago but Singh said the event will go on as planned.

“They have issued a warning and they are right. It is a concern but we still have 10 days to go and air quality might improve,” he said.

“To reduce the pollutants, roads will be sprayed and treated with salt water and all vehicles will be off roads 12 hours prior to the event, and hopefully improved air conditions will bring better running experience for the participants.” (IANS)

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Delhi Smog: Odd-Even Car Rule May Return; Consider Cloud Seeding to curb Pollution : HC

The court said that though stubble-burning was the "visible villain", authorities should address the "other elephants in the room" such as dust generated by road and construction activity as well as vehicular and industrial pollution.

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pollution
Issuing a slew of direction as immediate measures to control pollution in Delhi-NCR, the court banned felling of trees, ordered sprinkling of water on roads to control dust. Pixabay

New Delhi, November 9, 2017 : The Delhi High Court on Thursday said there was an “emergency situation” vis-a-vis pollution in Delhi-NCR region and asked the Delhi government to consider vehicular odd-even scheme and cloud seeding to induce artificial rain.

The court also asked the Centre to hold meetings with Delhi and National Capital Region authorities to bring in short-term measures to control pollution immediately and to submit a report to it on November 16, the next date of hearing.

Issuing a slew of direction as immediate measures to control pollution in Delhi-NCR, the court banned felling of trees, ordered sprinkling of water on roads to control dust and strict enforcement of construction code to ensure that the air was not polluted.

A Division Bench of Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva also directed the Chief Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Control to call an emergency meeting with his counterparts in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh and pollution control agencies within three days to discuss ways to curb pollution.

The bench said the Chief Secretaries will also consider the feasibility of cloud seeding to bring down air pollution. This, the bench said, was not a very expensive process and Bengaluru had adopted it.

The court asked the Delhi government to consider bringing back the odd-even scheme — under which vehicles of odd and even registration numbers, with exceptions, ply on roads on designated days — to control traffic congestion and unclog the capital.

But the court questioned the government move to increase parking rates by four times.

“If somebody has to go to a hospital or buy important items, he ends up paying four times more for the parking,” the bench said.

The court said that though stubble-burning was the “visible villain”, authorities should address the “other elephants in the room” such as dust generated by road and construction activity as well as vehicular and industrial pollution.

“London has faced this kind of air pollution. They term it as pea soup fog, which is a killer fog. This is a deadly mixture of construction and vehicular dust and other factors,” the bench said.

The court also directed the Delhi government to conduct a survey of all hospitals in the national capital on availability of oxygen to deal with emergency situations with regard to vulnerability of children and senior citizens.

It told the Delhi government to strictly regulate the entry of trucks into the city.

The court was hearing a suo motu case it initiated in 2015 to control air pollution in the national capital. (IANS)

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Google soon be adding Restaurant ‘Wait’ times feature on Search and Maps

Google will soon add wait times of the restaurants in Search and maps.

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Google will add Restaurant wait times on Search and Maps
Google will add Restaurant wait times on Search and Maps. Pixabay
  • Google is adding a new feature in Search and Maps.
  • It will show the waiting times for any restaurant.

Now it will much easier to find a place in your favorite restaurant with Google Map’s new feature

Tired of long queues at restaurants? Relax as Google is soon rolling out wait times on Search — followed by Maps — that will show you the estimated wait-time at your favorite eating hangouts. 

To see wait times for nearly a million sit-down restaurants around the world that allow walk-ins, just search for the restaurant, open the business listing, and scroll down to the “Popular Times” section.

“There, you’ll see the estimated wait time at that very moment. And by tapping on any of the hour bars, you’ll see the estimated wait for that time period,” Google said in a blog post. You can even scroll left and right to see a summary of each day’s wait times below the hour bars, so you can plan ahead to beat the crowds. Wait-time estimates are based on anonymised historical data, similar to how Google computes the previously launched ‘Popular Times’ and ‘Visit Duration’ features.

In the case of restaurants, Google will now include a pop-up box that appears when you click on a time frame in the popular times’ chart. The box shows the live or historical data labelled as “busy”, “usually busy”, “usually not busy”, etc., along with the wait time, TechCrunch reported.( IANS)