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Using Street View Imagery to Predict Street-Level Particulate Air Pollution

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journal contribution
posted on 04.02.2021, 17:08 by Meng Qi, Steve Hankey
Land-use regression (LUR) models are frequently applied to estimate spatial patterns of air pollution. Traditional LUR often relies on fixed-site measurements and GIS-derived variables with limited spatial resolution. We present an approach that leverages Google Street View (GSV) imagery to predict street-level particulate air pollution (i.e., black carbon [BC] and particle number [PN] concentrations). We developed empirical models based on mobile monitoring data and features extracted from ∼52 500 GSV images using a deep learning model. We tested theory- and data-driven feature selection methods as well as models using images within varying buffer sizes (50–2000 m). Compared to LUR models with traditional variables, our models achieved similar model performance using the street-level predictors while also identifying additional potential hotspots. Adjusted R2 (10-fold CV R2) with integrated feature selection was 0.57–0.64 (0.50–0.57) and 0.65–0.73 (0.61–0.66) for BC and PN models, respectively. Models using only features near the measurement locations (i.e., GSV images within 250 m) explained ∼50% of air pollution variability, indicating PN and BC are strongly affected by the street-level built environment. Our results suggest that GSV imagery, processed with computer vision techniques, is a promising data source to develop LUR models with high spatial resolution and consistent predictor variables across administrative boundaries.