Your planet needs you!

Claudio Parrinello
Jan 23 · 5 min read

Air pollution is a major societal issue.

Globally, 93% of children under 18 live with air pollution levels that exceed World Health Organization guidelines.

Exposure to air pollution is linked to a wide range of adverse health consequences for children, including infant mortality, asthma, neurodevelopmental disorders and childhood cancers.

The Need

  • City administrators and anyone responsible for public health are under the obligation to monitor air quality and inform the public, especially in crisis situations.
  • Industry must comply with environmental legislation and monitor the levels of their emissions in the air, in order to avoid hefty fines and closure of factories. Companies are feeling the pressure to limit their carbon footprint and demonstrate environmentally responsible behavior.
  • Citizens feel the need for accurate, timely and easy to understand information about the quality of the air they breathe every day. In crisis situations (industrial accidents, forest fires, etc.), many do not trust the information provided by the authorities and fake news spread on social networks.

The Problem

Air quality monitoring is broken! Today, monitoring is mostly performed via large governmental stations, installed in a relatively small number of locations, usually in cities and along major transport routes. Government agencies manage and publish data typically after a 24 hours delay.

This mesh is not dense enough to quickly detect some sources of pollution that can generate dangerous situations. Also, as data are not published in real time, delays in pollution peaks detection occur, with no timely warnings for endangered populations.

As a consequence, many people do not feel protected by the government. Parents are particularly in need of information because children (and the elderly) are most sensitive to air quality.

PlanetWatch: a network of sensors and people

We are developing a global network of air quality sensors and environmentally-conscious people. PlanetWatchers will have the possibility to install air quality sensors outside their home or carry sensors while moving in the city or traveling. Additional sensors will be installed by PlanetWatch in partnership with local authorities, transport and telecommunications companies and other corporate entities.

This approach enables us to quickly deploy low-cost, dense, real-time air quality monitoring networks that effectively complement governmental networks.

Air quality data will be written on the Algorand blockchain, creating the first global, open, immutable historical air quality repository.

Is this really valuable?

As we write, major cities in Italy and other European countries are experiencing dangerously high levels of smog caused by a prolonged period of dry sunny weather and light winds. Traffic restriction measures have been enforced, yet their impact on smog is smaller than expected. In fact, on a local level, it is hard to assess the impact on smog of traffic vs emissions from domestic heating systems, industrial plants, etc.

In Rome, 13 governmental monitoring stations cover 1,287 km2 of city territory. PlanetWatch could provide a highly cost-effective complement to such stations: with the cost of one governmental station one can fund about 100 fixed PlanetWatch monitors and provide high-resolution, real-time air pollution data. Then, one could precisely correlate, in space and time, pollution peaks with road traffic, the location and activity of heating systems and industrial plants, etc, in order to identify key pollution drivers on a local level.

As well as studying the causes of air pollution, high-resolution air quality data may also be instrumental to analyze more precisely the impact of bad air on sensitive populations, by collecting direct feedback from people suffering from asthma, allergies, etc. We are receiving expressions of interest from medical institutions to discuss this point.

Decentralize, Incentivize, Gamify!

How do we engage PlanetWatchers? Enter Planet: a utility token issued on the Algorand blockchain. Planets will be earned by sending air quality data to PlanetWatch from connected sensors.

Sensing is mining!

A grid overlay is applied to each territory with sensors connected to PlanetWatch. Each cell in the grid is dynamically assigned a status, which reflects the potential to earn Planets by performing air quality measurements inside the cell.

In order to connect a sensor to PlanetWatch, a small amount
of Planets must be staked. A cell is active if a set amount of Planets are staked to activate it, or if a neighboring cell is active. For active cells, higher rewards
are offered where fewer measurements were streamed in the previous time frame.

This mechanism creates an incentive to carry out measurements in active but neglected cells, aiming to optimize coverage of active territories.

It is possible to buy a sensor from PlanetWatch and operate it to earn (“mine”) Planets. It is also possible to sponsor a sensor already installed by PlanetWatch and mine Planets without actually managing any sensor. Sponsoring a sensor to earn tokens is our version of cloud mining.

Planets can be spent to buy products and services from PlanetWatch.

The Best Technologies and Partners

The key technology bricks in PlanetWatch are:

  • High-performance, yet affordable sensors,
  • A powerful framework for data acquisition and validation,
  • A highly secure, fast and energy-efficient blockchain.

The first PlanetWatch-compliant air quality sensor has been developed by
a laboratory of the Italian National Research Council and has been independently tested by the EU Joint Research Center.

The sensor data acquisition framework is based on a software suite developed at CERN, which is the largest fundamental physics laboratory in the world. The birthplace of major physics discoveries such as the Higgs Boson, CERN is also the place where the World Wide Web was invented by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989. Incidentally, PlanetWatch is the first blockchain company in the world to join the prestigious club of startups labeled as “CERN spin-off”.

PlanetWatch will use the Algorand blockchain in order to issue the Planet token and to create the first immutable, global air quality data ledger in the world.

Created by Silvio Micali, MIT professor and Turing Prize awardee, the Algorand blockchain is currently regarded as one of the most advanced in the world in terms of security, speed and energetic efficiency.

Who are you anyway?

I guess I forgot to say that we are a company, incorporated in France, which will soon join the French business incubation center of CERN technologies Innogex, located less than a mile away from the CERN site. Please visit www.planetwatch.io for further info on the company and the key people.

We will soon release further details about our project, roadmap, token model, sensors, etc.

Please stay tuned by following us on Twitter and joining our Telegram group.

Planet Watch

Your planet needs you

Claudio Parrinello

Written by

Serial entrepreneur. Former research scientist, manager at CERN and international consultant.

Planet Watch

Your planet needs you

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