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Experts and officials have called for mobile air quality monitoring technology to be further developed to help China"s air pollution control campaign after its first mobile air monitoring competition concluded in Beijing on Sunday.
The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei cluster, a key area in China"s air pollution control efforts, saw marked improvement in its air quality last year. Beijing saw the average PM2.5 density drop by about 12 percent year-on-year to 51 micrograms per cubic meter, said Cao Liping, head of Bureau of Ecological and Environmental Supervision at the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.
However, Cao said that air pollution control remains an arduous task, as there are still frequent occurrences of heavy air pollution in the region, citing the ongoing haze that started on Thursday as an example.
"With increasingly heavy tasks in ecological environment protection, the law enforcement personnel remain comparatively limited," he said.
His ministry brought in remote satellite sensing technology in August to help find the most heavily polluted grid in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei cluster. While this has greatly improved law enforcement efficiency by narrowing the range for tracing pollution sources, it has yet to help precisely locate them, he said.
According to the ministry, all 28 major cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei cluster are divided into 36,793 grids, with each grid covering 3 square kilometers.
Improved technology is needed to help the limited number of law enforcement officers trace pollution sources more precisely, he said.
Zhang Jianyu, chief representative of the Beijing office of Environmental Defense Fund, an NGO based in the United States, said there are new opportunities in the environmental protection industry as new technologies emerge.
Full use should be made of the latest technological approaches, such as machine learning and big-data analysis, in environmental governance and addressing environmental challenges, he added.
The competition was launched by the fund, the Engineering Innovation Center at Southern University of Science and Technology, and HD Environmental Consortium in June.
Seven companies participated in the competition in the last three months in Cangzhou, Hebei province, and Xiangtan, Hunan province. Instead of ranking the competitors, the organizers gave out four different types of awards, including those for designing and market potential.
Environmental Thinking from Shenzhen won an award for the outstanding design of its vehicle-mounted air monitoring facility. In addition to vehicle-mounted facilities, some competitors also used unmanned aerial vehicles for monitoring.