Make daily commuting of urban inhabitant healthier!

Date: 25 Jul 2016
Cat: Bicycle, Brasil, Health, Startups

The air pollution is a worldwide scourge and affects the health of thousands of citizens. According to a study from Planète Gaia, more than 3,2 millions of death per year can be attribute to the air contamination. India and China are the first countries impacted with more than 2 millions.

Governments and NGO, such as World Health Organization, are working on this topic and implementing new policies to decrease this dramatic number. For example, they are pushing for new modes of transport such as cycling or walking.

However, these new ways of commuting suppose to be in direct contact with the air and commuters want to know if they are in danger.


BeMap, a fresh start-up from Swizerland, is working on this topic and invented a device to collect pollution data and allow people to chose the lowest level of vehicle exhaust road. They were in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in May 2016 and organized a mapping party to collect data about the quality of air of these 2 megacities.

Let’s discover this innovation which could improve the daily life of thousands of cyclists and pedestrians.

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Governments are pushing for citizens to use alternative ways of commuting for their daily journeys such as walking or cycling. However, those are the most exposed to bad air quality.

Concerned about the environment, 4 students in microelectronics of the university of EPFL (école polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne) in Lausanne (Swizerland) have decided to work on improving the quality of the journey of these commuters and created BeMap in 2015. Their mission is  “to empower people by giving them a tool to measure their exposure to atmospheric pollutants”.

How it works ?

  • Collection of data :
    • BeMap device is a bike lamp alternative featuring GPS tracking, and sensors (CO,NO2, Humidity) measuring pollution along your cycling route.
    • At the same time, a LED indicator keeps you up to date about the current pollution.
    • The device has an accelerometer which collects data about the quality of the road (vibration).
    • The data collected are stored in an open-source data base (which means that any developer or citizen can use these data).
  • Use of data :
    • BeMap uses the data to map the city roads in different colours according to the air quality : red, orange and green depending on the contamination of the air.



Mapping parties in Rio and Sao Paulo

Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo are two megacities of Brazil which are facing congestion issue and look both for new alternative to cars to move around the city. Sao Paulo has implemented more than 400 kilometers of bicycle lane in the past few years. Rio de Janeiro is working in improving its transport system (tramway, bicycle lanes and/or teleferic) for the Olympic games and, as a legacy, for its inhabitants.

Daily, more and more citizens are thinking about moving differently. However, as lots of megacities, Rio and SaoPaulo have issues with air contamination. Even though it is getting better, the air pollution of Sao Paulo is responsible for the death of more than 3500 persons per year (according to a study from Planète Gaia)

Swissnex, a Swiss insitute which aims to connect Swizerland and Brazil on different topics such as culture, art, innovation, has organized a mapping party in May 2016 to map the air quality of the streets.

How it works?

  • 3 partners were involved in leading the program : Swissnex (Swiss Institute), BeMap (brings its technologies) and Whoole (local player which is working on alternate solution for commuting)
  • Collecting data : they worked with local collectives of cyclist to collect the data. Each cyclist was carrying a sensor on his bicycle and was going around the city.
  • Mapping data : thanks to the data collected, they were able to map several roads of the city

Today, these data are open-sourced and anybody can download them online to work on it. Moreover, you can buy your kit to do your own device at home in order to mesure the quality of air of your streets.

Air quality is an invisible issue but a real concern which needs to be faced to improve quality of life of thousands of people. To make it more realistic and tangible and make people better understand how important it is, we need data. Let’s hope this initiative will lead to a global movement.