Once known as the “Garden City” of India, my birthplace and hometown of Bangalore has undergone significant transformation in the past 20-30 years. Now known as the “Silicon Valley” of Asia, the tremendous growth and prosperity Bangalore has experienced has posed benefits and challenges for the residents of the city.
Green City “No More”
One of the casualties of progress has been the deteriorating quality of life; most noticeably related to air, water and noise pollution. Citizens have to battle on a daily basis with unprecedented traffic gridlock, water shortage, power outages, sewage draining into lakes, noise pollution and inadequate garbage pickup.
On a recent visit back to India, I made a trip into the city’s core; a distance of 10-12 kilometers. Such a short trip took almost 90 minutes. The city infrastructure was never designed to accommodate the human and traffic capacity demands being placed upon it presently. The roads were overflowing with trucks, auto rickshaws, buses, cars, motorcycles, scooters and cows; all jockeying for position in the constricted and congested arteries of the city.
A stop at a major intersection is usually 2-3 minutes. Dust and exhaust fumes saturate the air. Women commonly wear scarves around their heads and men wear medical masks inside their helmets in an attempt to lessen the impact of the air and particulate matter being inhaled. A typical commuter ride is finished by washing one's hands, face (and especially eyes) and hair to remove the filmy coating of rust-coloured dust and pollution that invariably coats everything.
The prosperity of the city has attracted a multitude of newcomers and business. The multitude of new factories and high rise complexes across the city are increasingly contributing to the rise in air pollution. But the result is the city keeps expanding like a ripple caused by throwing a pebble in a pond. Compounding the air pollution problem is the frequent power outages. Unreliable supplies of electricity from power grids means that businesses and apartment complexes often run large diesel generators to ensure a reliable supply of electricity, multiplying the air pollution effect.
The end result is a reduction in the quality of life and a dangerous impacts for the health of individuals. For example, the World Health Organization has concluded that diesel fumes definitively cause lung cancer.
The Bangalore story is not all bad though; there is a strong green and environmental movement in the city, state and country. People realize that air pollution is not a minor irritant of progress that can be tolerated. Both governments and individuals are helping pass legislation that would limit and reduce diesel emissions.
Ambience Data is committed to providing users with the tools they need to deal with air pollution. These tools are made available not only to governments and businesses but to citizens as well. We believe that armed with realtime information and the “Big Data” derived analytics that Ambience Data products and services can provide, individuals can make smart decisions that lessen the impact of big city problems such as air pollution and help ensure that their families are protected.