The Polipod collects data on the moving roofs of the city itself: Public busses.
Polisens.io was one of two start-up companies that won an innovation internship after attending E.ON Denmark’s 2019 accelerator programme #accelerateCPH. As a result, they’ve moved in to E.ONs Danish headquarters in Frederiksberg, where they are now working side by side with E.ON experts to develop a sustainable business model for their invention.
Air pollution – an invisible, but potent killer
Air pollution is the cause of 1/3 of deaths from lung cancer, stroke and heart disease according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and latest reports estimates that the death toll from transport related air pollution is 900 casualties a year in Denmark. “Because air pollution is invisible to the naked eye - unless we’re talking large cities in Asia - people in cities generally do not think about dangerously high air pollution levels,” says COO and co-founder Razvan Suta from Polisens.io and explains: “Our invention is for smart cities, who are ready to implement both short-term and long-term solutions to bring down air pollution.”
Moving sensors vs. stationary sensors
By moving sensors around in the cities on top of public busses or other fleets of vehicles they can cover an area up to 80 % larger than the stationary sensors commonly used. Stationary sensors cover only 1 sq. kilometre. Everything in between stations right now is estimates.
“Precise data for smart decisionmakers”
“One of the reasons why we chose Polisens.io for our accelerator programme is the current need for more accurate data on air pollution. Decisionmakers need better data to act on – stationary sensors are not enough.” says E.ON’s Chief Innovation Officer, Lars Van Hauen.
Data from street level where people move around
Collecting data at street level – where people are more likely to spend time, than on rooftops, where stationary sensors are sometimes placed, gives a much more accurate picture of the air pollution in cities. Stationary sensors are expensive and in for example Copenhagen there are only 3-4 sensors. The areas in between the stations are grey zones. “Our sensors are much easier to implement and at a much lower cost,” Razvan Suta from Polisens.io adds.
What do the sensors do?
The Polipod-sensors are low energy, customizable devices and detect several air pollutants. Most commonly known is CO2, but even particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) and NOx (Nitrogen Oxide) are sources of concern. Particulate matter’s small size is directly related to their ability to cause health problems, because they can penetrate the respiratory system. NOx stems from diesel fumes and is known to decrease lung function.
Real time data for real time action
Data from the network of moving Polipods is sent to the Polimonitor – an online platform showing real time air pollution. It updates every minute and creates heat maps, analysis and alerts. It’s even possible to zoom in on the air quality of a single street. And cities can act on the data and for example close off streets with high pollution levels as a short-term or long-term solution.
Nomadic entrepreneurs met in Denmark by chance
The trio behind Polisens.io are all from Romania and met in 2014 while studying in Aalborg, Denmark. They came up with the Polisensio-concept during a three-day hackathon in lata 2016 hosted by Telia – and won the first price. Since then they have lived out of a bag all over Europe participating in accelerator programmes in Estonia, Oslo and Vienna where they received funds for hardware testing and software refinement. Their first customer was signed in the Netherlands. And they have participated in more than 30 events and pitches all over Europe, since starting the business in early 2017. As of February 1st their base has been E.ON Denmark.
Next target: The City of Copenhagen
“Right now we are trying to launch a network of 50 moving sensors in Copenhagen and have talks with the Copenhagen municipality – and of course they will be our next paying customer” Razvan says and laughs just to turn serious in the following sentence: “But these negotiations with cities are long and we were expecting this”.
E.ONs accessibility makes a difference
Sitting at E.ON has been a positive asset to the experienced, serial accelerator-team: “Previous accelerator programmes have been hardcore BtB, but E.ONs #accelerateCPH is a great mix of both technological innovation and great ties with the outside corporate world. It is a good programme because we are just two teams, so we have full accessibility to the E.ON stakeholders and our mentors,” Razvan Suta explains.