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Uber Drivers in Mexico City are Recording Air Pollution

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November 25, 2016

A Mexican flag is barely visible in the smog-filled skies over Mexico City. (Roberto Velazquez/AP/2008)

Mexico City - Uber Mexico has partnered with U.K.-based Drayson Technologies to create what is being described as "hyper-local air pollution information" for Mexico City.

Uber drivers' cars have been provided with a connected, smart air pollution sensor designed by Drayson Technologies. The CleanSpace Tag, as it's known, will enable Uber drivers to document air quality levels inside and outside of their vehicles.

Data on air pollution will be provided in the form of a graph on the driver's phone, and will also be uploaded to the cloud to create a broader map of pollution in the city.

Air pollution is a big problem for many living in Mexico City - in March this year it banned private and federal vehicles from its streets for one day a week in a bid to control its high levels of ozone and other contaminants.

Globally, the issue is no less pressing. A report issued by UNICEF last month found that around 300 million children - nearly one in seven on the planet - were living in parts of the world where levels of outdoor pollution are at their most toxic.

The UNICEF report, Clear the Air for Children, used satellite imagery of outdoor air pollution to calculate that 300 million children were living in areas where levels exceeded "international guidelines by at least six times."

"We all share the same air: Whether we're young or old, rich or poor, we all breathe the same air," Paul Drayson, chairman and CEO of Drayson Technologies, told CNBC in a phone interview.

"It's a great opportunity for connected devices... to form a network which gives hyper-local information on air pollution, allows people to see the air they're breathing with data in their hands, but also to contribute that data to a better understanding overall," Drayson added.

Roberto Fernández del Castillo, director general of Uber Mexico, said in a statement on Thursday that Uber partners in CDMX would be "compiling air pollution data on a ground-breaking scale."

For Drayson, the impact of this kind of technology could be significant. "If we can get good data on air pollution itself, and we can combine that with data on things like exacerbation of asthma attacks," he said.

"We can get a better understanding of how we can ameliorate the effects of air pollution, how we can motivate people to reduce pollution, and how we can reduce healthcare costs and improve outcomes," he added.

Original article