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Tag: airquality

Danger in the Air: UNICEF

Blue Raster collaborated with The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to help produce Danger in the Air: How air pollution can affect brain development in young children. Leveraging the analysis pioneered during a recent study with UNICEF regarding air pollution, Blue Raster and UNICEF used satellite imagery of outdoor air pollution in combination with global demographic data to determine that 17 million babies under the age of 1 breathe toxic air, with the majority living in South Asia. The report also highlights why young children are the most vulnerable to the impact of air pollution.

Air pollution is a critical health issue to people all over the world. Children are especially vulnerable to air pollution due to their physiology: their lungs are still developing, and exposure to harmful air during this critical period can be especially detrimental, causing life-threatening diseases. A growing number of studies are even pointing to the impacts of air pollution on a cognitive development. They note that breathing in particulate air pollution can damage brain tissue and undermine cognitive development – with lifelong implications and setbacks.

UNICEF has made its mission protecting and empowering children around the world. With Blue Raster’s help, UNICEF identified the youngest children who are most vulnerable to the dangers of air pollution, and promotes a greater understanding of this issue among governments, communities, and families. Further geospatial analysis can help us identify trends, pinpoint sources of pollution, and create plans for reducing pollution in the future.

“Not only do pollutants harm babies’ developing lungs – they can permanently damage their developing brains – and, thus, their futures. Protecting children from air pollution not only benefits children. It is also benefits their societies – realized in reduced health care costs, increased productivity and a safer, cleaner environment for everyone.”

Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director 

TNC Story Map: Planting Healthy Air

By 2050, the majority of humanity will live in cities, towns, and other urban areas. Among the most pressing of global urban environmental challenges is air quality. In cities, the most damaging air pollutant is particulate matter (PM), but another pressing problem cities face is heat: the air is simply so hot in summer that human health is impacted. At the same time, with climate change, increasing temperatures around the world are exacerbating excess heat produced by cities and causing dangerous heat waves.

To address this concern for the future, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) investigated the effect of planting trees in urban areas. The science is clear that tree leaves play a part in removing particulate matter from the atmosphere along with many other air pollutants. Also, the shade provided by urban trees along with the transpiration of water during photosynthesis can help reduce air temperatures, while also reducing electricity needed for residential cooling. From an economic perspective, TNC found planting trees produces a significant return on investment when planted strategically in certain areas of a city.

17_trees_remove_pollution_1To determine precisely where and how much trees can help, The Nature Conservancy collected geospatial information on forest and land cover, PM2.5 pollutant concentration, and population density for 245 cities and used relationships established in the literature to estimate the scope of current and future street trees needed to make urban air healthier. The resultant report, titled “Planting Healthy Air,” advises cities on where trees offer the highest return on investment for improving public health by addressing particulate matter and excess heat.

To help visualize this data and share this story, TNC came to Blue Raster for help creating an interactive story map built on the latest Esri technology. The Planting Healthy Air story map details the project’s motivation, visualizes its geographic data and geospatial analysis, and describes a simple plan for cities to reduce pollution and temperature by planting trees. The viewer can select a section of interest or scroll through all of them, exploring and interacting with maps. Viewers can see neighborhood-level analysis in any of the 245 cities included in the report or read in-depth remarks about one of 15 focus cities.

tncstorymap_benefitsoftrees

Built on ArcGIS Online, the Planting Healthy Air story map uses Cascade, a new template designed for immersive storytelling. The story map’s interactive format allows viewers to explore the data and analysis on their own terms and get personalized information about the places that matter to them.

“Thanks to Blue Raster for all their hard work. We’re really excited about this new resource for sharing our science!”

– Misty Edgecomb, Director of Communications, Global Cities, The Nature Conservancy

Read more on this exciting project at: https://global.nature.org/content/healthyair


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