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Smart Environmental Monitoring: Keeping an Eye on Air Quality with More Data

May 18, 2016 by Frank Wittmann 47

The Port of Hamburg records over 1.5 million measurement readings a day. Computer scientists from Potsdam’s Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI) are using in-memory technology to show how these vast volumes of data can help reduce emissions. The software solution will be presented for the first time at SAPPHIRE NOW.

Ports continue to be one of the most important transport hubs for international trade. Around 10,000 maritime vessels a year pass through Hamburg’s port alone, constituting Europe’s third-highest container handling volume. In doing so, they not only leave behind goods, but increasingly also data. Over 1.5 million environmental, position and traffic measurement readings are recorded by the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) every day. Computer scientists from the Hasso Plattner Institute are working on using these huge quantities of data to create models for air quality in the port area.

The Potsdam researchers have developed software designed to enable the port of Hamburg to track air quality data and trends at any time.

“Our software application enables these different data sources to be linked together. Furthermore, the vast amounts of data can be visualized in order to give a comprehensive picture of the port facility,” explains Dr Matthias Uflacker, deputy chair of the HPI faculty for Enterprise Platforms and Integration Concepts. He adds that air quality analyses nowadays have a long-term focus, and are very static, whereas the HPI software seeks to enable dynamic analyses in real time.

The software can be used to calculate and track sulphur dioxide readings, nitrogen dioxide readings, particulate matter readings, the positions of various ships types and traffic flows on vehicle routes on an interactive map of the port area.

“For the first time ever, emissions can thus be approximately calculated and displayed for specific time frames and regions in a matter of seconds,” says Uflacker. These analyses could ultimately help experts implement emission-reducing measures.

There are a wide range of possible applications – for example, in the usage and development of environmentally friendly external power infrastructure. When ships dock in a port, they have to keep their auxiliary machinery running in order to supply power to the onboard electronics systems. Exhaust gases are therefore produced even during downtimes – something which can be heavily reduced using land-based power systems.

“The software will be able, for instance, to help determine the optimum location for the environmentally friendly power sources,” explains Ulrich Baldauf, head of IT strategy at the HPA.

The application created by Uflacker’s Potsdam team is based on in-memory database technology co-developed at the HPI, and is a focus area of current research. Anyone wanting to try this Potsdam-produced software for themselves can do so in Orlando at SAPPHIRE NOW from May 17-19, where the emission-analysis software will be launched. The HPI will also be presenting selected projects on in-memory database technology and innovative online learning formats for universities and companies at stand 100.

Frank Wittmann is Online Marketing manager for Hasso Plattner Institute
Top image via Shutterstock

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