Located in a resource-scarce developing country, the air pollution profile of Beirut is unique and concerning.

The two major sources of air pollution in Beirut are diesel generators and light-duty vehicles. Lebanese heavily rely on diesel generators to fulfill their daily electricity needs due to a constant electricity supply shortage. The unmet power supply by Électricité du Liban has been increasing over the years, from 22% in 2008 to 37% in 2018— and it is projected to grow to 56% in 2026. It is estimated diesel generators consumed 1.6 million tons of fuel and emitted about 2 Gg of fine PM in 2016. Meanwhile, the number of light-duty vehicles doubled over a decade (2007 to 2016) and is currently emitting 0.2 Gg fine PM annually. Both emission sources are local and distributed while following a strong diurnal pattern.

We assessed the air quality effects of diesel generators and light-duty traffic in Beirut by deploying a sensing platform to be mounted on any vehicle, allowing the capture of spatiotemporal variations of environmental phenomena in urban areas at a high granular scale. City Scanner is a low-cost, solar-powered, and modular vehicular sensing platform that might different sensors, such as Optical Particle Counter (OPC), CO and SO2 gas sensor, sound pressure, and temperature and humidity sensors. Deploying City Scanner Flatburn sensing nodes and gathering high-quality datasets enable decision-making and foster public engagement on environmental issues. This pilot project can become the spearhead of a larger initiative to monitor air quality in several other cities in the Middle East.

Project Details

Principal Investigator:
Carlo Ratti, Professor of Urban Technologies and Planning, MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning

Co-Principal Investigators:
Fabio Duarte, Lecturer, MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Lead researcher: Simone Mora, Research Scientist, MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning

Beirut, Lebanon

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