Just imagine, you open the window of your city apartment in the morning – and instead of traffic noise and exhaust fumes, you’re greeted with fresh air and birdsong. On your way to work, traffic is flowing smoothly and you register your new electric car via smartphone – without any paperwork or lengthy waiting times at the registration office.
55 percent of the world’s population are now city dwellers, 80 percent of whom live in cities that do not meet the air quality guidelines of the World Health Organization.
Together with Green City Solutions, we have developed the CityTree. The four-meter-high “tree” uses the ability of moss to filter particulate matter. With the help of around 1,700 moss cultures, it reduces particulate air pollution in the surrounding area by up to 80 percent. But it can do more: It has a pleasant cooling effect, contains a WiFi hotspot, measures the air quality, and offers a space to sit and relax for a while. The CityTree therefore combines the benefits of plants with those of the Internet of Things (IoT). We have already installed this green all-rounder in Darmstadt and in front of the Deutsche Telekom headquarters in Bonn.
Developing further measures for enhancing air quality in cities calls for a solid database. Fortunately, that is exactly what Germany’s first digital monitoring network for air pollutants, which we are operating in tandem with the “Digital City Darmstadt”, provides. At a total of twelve monitoring points, sensors continuously collect valuable, real-time information on the quality of air, such as the levels of particulate matter and nitrogen, and cover more or less the entire city. The stations are part of the street cabinets from Deutsche Telekom, that is to say the gray curbside boxes. This means the monitoring system, which we developed with the Fraunhofer institute for applied sensor technology in Coburg, does not require any complex or costly infrastructure building work.