Can Big Data Prevent Allergy Attacks?

People use data visualization based on public information to find pollen-safe paths.

Street Tree Visualization from Big Data sensors

"Say you're located in one area of Portland (Ore.) and want to travel outdoors to another area. This data visualization shows what paths you can take to avoid specific trees so you get optimal air quality," said Adam Laskowtiz, a researcher at Intel Labs.

Itchy eyes, sneezing, stuffy and runny noses, coughing and even asthma attacks are rites of spring that come with blooming plants and skyrocketing pollen counts, but big data could spell big relief for allergy sufferers. Data visualizations available online today can help people plot routes that will allow them to avoid high-pollen areas and in the future this information could be made accessible on mobile devices.

“If you’re allergic to ash trees, then it’s important to know when the trees are pollinating so you can avoid them,” said Adam Laskowtiz, a researcher at Intel Labs.

A visualization program developed by Laskowitz and other Intel researchers allows people to identify pollen activity by specific types of trees and plot a block by block route to avoid specific allergens.

“Say you’re located in one area of Portland (Ore.) and want to travel outdoors to another area. This data visualization shows what paths you can take to avoid specific trees so you get optimal air quality,” Laskowitz said, adding that this is just one of many new ways public data can be put to purposeful use in people’s daily lives.

“The city collected this data to record where species of trees are located and really manage all tree-related operations,” he said. “We are using it for something entirely different.”

The species data that feeds the visualization comes from the city of Portland’s Parks and Recreation Urban Forestry Department. It’s based on a public tree inventory, something other cities across the nation are starting to do as well. That’s combined with other publically available data, including pollination periods, historical temperature, wind direction and speed, and precipitation, that is displayed on a digital street map with yellow dots indicating specific tree types.

The visualization is being designed in Processing, an integrated development environment that Laskowitz says is widely used by the open source community.

Plotting big data from air quality sensors on map

"If you're allergic to ash trees, then it's important to know when the trees are pollinating so you can avoid them," said Adam Laskowtiz, a researcher at Intel Labs.

“It’s Java-based so it can easily be ported to Android or Javascript for the Web,” said Laskowitz. “Ideally, when we have our own sensors out in the world we will be able to gather highly local data that will impact the meaning generated from the data.”

Currently, the tree visualization doesn’t incorporate data from air quality sensors, but in the future that information could be included.

Having all of this data compiled in a visual, easy to understand way could help people manage their daily lives, according to Laskowitz. People could use the tool to navigate different levels of data such as adding pollen count with pollution levels and wind conditions, all depending on what a person wants at a particular time.

In the near future, personal devices may be able to access real-time data sources to automatically generate a walking or biking route that avoids high-pollution or pollen zones before a person steps out of the house.

The project points to how “we can make the data meaningful and valuable to individuals in specific places,” according to Laskowitz.

Can Big Data Prevent Allergy Attacks?

People use data visualization based on public information to find pollen-safe paths.

Street Tree Visualization from Big Data sensors

"Say you're located in one area of Portland (Ore.) and want to travel outdoors to another area. This data visualization shows what paths you can take to avoid specific trees so you get optimal air quality," said Adam Laskowtiz, a researcher at Intel Labs.

Itchy eyes, sneezing, stuffy and runny noses, coughing and even asthma attacks are rites of spring that come with blooming plants and skyrocketing pollen counts, but big data could spell big relief for allergy sufferers. Data visualizations available online today can help people plot routes that will allow them to avoid high-pollen areas and in the future this information could be made accessible on mobile devices.

“If you’re allergic to ash trees, then it’s important to know when the trees are pollinating so you can avoid them,” said Adam Laskowtiz, a researcher at Intel Labs.

A visualization program developed by Laskowitz and other Intel researchers allows people to identify pollen activity by specific types of trees and plot a block by block route to avoid specific allergens.

“Say you’re located in one area of Portland (Ore.) and want to travel outdoors to another area. This data visualization shows what paths you can take to avoid specific trees so you get optimal air quality,” Laskowitz said, adding that this is just one of many new ways public data can be put to purposeful use in people’s daily lives.

“The city collected this data to record where species of trees are located and really manage all tree-related operations,” he said. “We are using it for something entirely different.”

The species data that feeds the visualization comes from the city of Portland’s Parks and Recreation Urban Forestry Department. It’s based on a public tree inventory, something other cities across the nation are starting to do as well. That’s combined with other publically available data, including pollination periods, historical temperature, wind direction and speed, and precipitation, that is displayed on a digital street map with yellow dots indicating specific tree types.

The visualization is being designed in Processing, an integrated development environment that Laskowitz says is widely used by the open source community.

Plotting big data from air quality sensors on map

"If you're allergic to ash trees, then it's important to know when the trees are pollinating so you can avoid them," said Adam Laskowtiz, a researcher at Intel Labs.

“It’s Java-based so it can easily be ported to Android or Javascript for the Web,” said Laskowitz. “Ideally, when we have our own sensors out in the world we will be able to gather highly local data that will impact the meaning generated from the data.”

Currently, the tree visualization doesn’t incorporate data from air quality sensors, but in the future that information could be included.

Having all of this data compiled in a visual, easy to understand way could help people manage their daily lives, according to Laskowitz. People could use the tool to navigate different levels of data such as adding pollen count with pollution levels and wind conditions, all depending on what a person wants at a particular time.

In the near future, personal devices may be able to access real-time data sources to automatically generate a walking or biking route that avoids high-pollution or pollen zones before a person steps out of the house.

The project points to how “we can make the data meaningful and valuable to individuals in specific places,” according to Laskowitz.