IBM tries to forecast and control Beijing's air pollution

IBM is launching a new project to address China's energy and environmental problems

A smoggy day in Beijing.

A smoggy day in Beijing.

China's nagging pollution problems could start to abate with the help of an IBM project that seeks to predict and control the air quality in Beijing, using new computing technologies.

On Monday, IBM announced it was partnering with the Chinese capital to address the city's ongoing air pollution woes. Populated by over 21 million people, Beijing is one of the country's largest municipalities. But it's also among the Chinese cities with some of the worst air quality in the nation, with pollution levels often rising to hazardous levels.

Causing the smog are the millions of cars in Beijing, the surrounding factories, fossil fuel burning power plants, and the pollution coming from other neighboring cities. Despite the complexities, IBM wants to accurately map the problem with computer modeling.

"You could then take a lot of actions to improve your air quality," said Jin Dong, an IBM Research director involved in the project.

Using supercomputers to predict and study pollution patterns is nothing new. And already, China's government agencies, and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, publicly report real-time pollution levels to residents.

But IBM is hoping to design a better system tailored for Beijing that can predict air quality levels three days in advance, and even pinpoint the exact sources of the pollution down to the street level, explained Dong.

IBM has 20 years of experience in weather modeling, he added, but forecasting the air quality will require new computer modeling to take into account all of Beijing's different pollution sources. Along with the city, IBM is also partnering with academics and industry players to pull pollution-related data from local air quality monitoring stations, weather satellites, and the company's own optical sensors.

The pay-off could be big. By successfully forecasting Beijing's pollution patterns, the system could also suggest preventive measures to keep the city's air quality from approaching hazardous levels. The government would know when to reduce production at certain factories, or where to limit car traffic, said Xiaowei Shen, director of IBM Research in China.

"You not only have to build a model that can predict. You have to provide a decision system so that people can take proper action," Shen said.

IBM's partnership with Beijing is just part of the U.S. company's larger effort, called Green Horizon, to work with China in solving its environmental and energy issues. The company has already been designing systems to better manage the country's electric grid. One such solution is helping wind turbine and solar power operators accurately forecast their energy output, turning them into more reliable power generators.

IBM will need not just technology to solve the problems, but also participation from the entire industry. The company hopes that the Green Horizon project can attract more partners, Shen said. "It really requires us to build an eco-system," he said. "This is a very broad area. It requires a lot of innovation."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags supercomputersGovernment use of ITHigh performanceIBMhardware systemsgovernmentindustry verticalsenergyenvironment

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?