Joburg plans to clear the air
A partnership between Johannesburg and IBM will give the city automated, real-time data on air pollution
As more and more people flock to cities, the threat of environmental pollution and its associated health risks grow — conjuring images of swarms of people in pollution masks.Compounding this is the growth in "dirty" industry and urban sprawl that brings people in closer contact with factories, mines and manufacturing plants — and the pollution they produce. But technology presents city management with a new tool to measure and even combat this. One such project is playing out on the streets of Johannesburg.Exposure to air pollution is a risk factor in respiratory complaints, heart disease, stroke and cancer. The World Health Organisation (WHO) calls it the world’s single biggest environmental health risk, and in 2012 attributed around 7m deaths to its effects — with the majority of these in low-and middle-income countries.The World Bank estimates air pollution kills around 20,000 people annually in SA, and puts the cost to the economy, through factors like health-care costs and lost...