Tell us about the origins of PlanetWatch. How did you come up with the concept?

Air pollution has been a fast-growing threat to people's health and our climate. So much so that it is estimated that eight million people die every year because of air pollution. Moreover, 99% of the global population breathes air that exceeds World Health Organization's (WHO) guideline limits on pollutants.

Traditional air monitoring solutions have been sporadically deployed. However, they simply have not provided sufficient coverage and density of data to accurately identify pollution hotspots, both outdoors and indoors. That's where the idea from PlanetWatch came in.

PlanetWatch was founded as a CERN spin-off, where I worked as a physicist for several years. I realised that blockchain technologies could radically aid citizen science projects, such as environmental monitoring. Through this approach, we empower global citizens to watch over the air they breathe.

So, how does PlanetWatch work?

We have built a truly community-driven global air quality monitoring network that has been growing every day.

The data gathered from sensors operated by the community is stored anonymously on the Algorand blockchain - a high-performance and green decentralised ledger.

By incentivising individuals to deploy air monitoring sensors via earning tokens as rewards for data streams with additional rewards when data are monetized, we can roll out high-density sensor networks quickly and cost-effectively worldwide. The data from such networks is instrumental to establish actionable measures to improve air quality.

We have dozens of thousands of sensors worldwide, with major partnerships with innovative companies and cities across North America (e.g. Miami) and Europe (e.g. Madrid, Budapest, and London).

What roles do businesses have in tackling air pollution?

Businesses and public sector organizations have a major role to play in this effort. It's easy to forget how much our built environment, of which commercial buildings make up a significant part, impacts air quality both indoors and outdoors. In fact, according to the World Green Building Council, 39% of global energy-related carbon emissions are attributed to buildings. It is important to note that almost four million people die prematurely from illnesses related to indoor air pollution, as stated by WHO.

Simple changes in our shops, offices, hospitals, and schools can have incredible impacts on overall global health, and truly understanding the air we are breathing is critical to triggering the much-needed transformation.

We work with a range of businesses and organizations to help them monitor the air quality within and around their buildings. Schools and hotels are examples of organizations that have quickly developed a high level of awareness of the importance of indoor air quality monitoring.

As partners, customers, and the general public become more and more conscious of the role organizations can play, we expect to see many more entities making proactive efforts to improve the air we breathe.

What are PlanetWatch's ambitions for the future?

The priority is to expand our network by encouraging as many people, organisations, and local and national governments to better monitor their air quality and promote change. There is a clear need for more sensors indoors and outdoors, where hyperlocal data are needed.

We are partnering increasingly with local authorities and international organisations who recognise the need to act against air pollution in their cities and can collectively play a role on a global scale to build a global air quality data ledger.

For more information visit PlanetWatch