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Implementation of Air Pollution Control Plan Achieves Remarkable Big Data Prospects in Environmental Monitoring

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The program “Smart Internet of Things (IoT) - Intergenerational Environmental Management”, aimed at providing precise, high-quality environmental monitoring data as well as convenient, stable, and secure digital environmental services, has entered its second year of implementation. The EPA will continue to carry out measures such as optimizing the IoT system for environmental sensing, expanding smart applications of the environmental management network, and exploring technologies across different fields and industrial innovations. Efforts will also be taken to continue enhancing the capacities of air and water quality monitoring networks in order to provide the most immediate and precise data.

Environmental monitoring is the groundwork of environmental protection, and aims to understand environmental statuses and long-term environmental changes to serve as references for policy formulation. The EPA is in charge of information platforms for air and water quality monitoring, which are used to set up monitoring networks for air quality and rivers. This along with monitoring data of other departments contribute to a comprehensive environmental monitoring system in Taiwan.

With new-generation technologies, all monitoring spots are linked together to form a monitoring network that provides real-time environmental quality data that is useful for formulating national strategies for environmental controls. In addition, various databases of different departments are linked together to integrate all environmental information which are then connected to an overall environmental information monitoring network through various environmental information platforms.
The current environmental monitoring measures have two ultimate goals:

• Obtain precise, high-quality environmental monitoring information
• Provide convenient, stable, and secure digital environmental information services

Adopted strategies include:
1. Obtain precise, high-quality environmental monitoring information
2. Provide convenient, stable, and secure digital environmental information services
3. Set up a domestic environmental quality database with high-quality control
4. Provide services with advanced information and communication technologies
5. Extend governmental use of technologies by integrating administrative information systems
6. Develop and promote applied technologies based on environmental sensing IoT

Smart IoT - Intergenerational Environmental Management
As part of the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program (2021-2025), the “Smart Internet of Things (IoT) - Intergenerational Environmental Management” program has a budget of NT$916 million. It involves three main areas: optimizing the environmental sensing IoT system; extending smart applications based on the environmental monitoring network, and; exploring technologies across different fields and industrial innovations. 
Take for example air and water quality monitoring in the first area, optimizing the environmental sensing IoT system: 

(1) Deployment and application of air pollution sensing
1. Deployment of air pollution sensors 
The EPA applies the IoT for air pollution sensing, having worked with local governments and the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) to deploy approximately 10,000 sensors. Located in six municipalities and 16 cities and counties and covering 282 administrative areas and 111 major industrial and scientific parks across Taiwan, these sensors are able to detect the air pollution status of over 80,000 factories listed under control.
2. Assistance for and results of environmental inspections
With data such as pollutant types and pollution hotspots derived from the analysis of sensing data, the EPA is able to collect and compare permits, registrations, and other information on suspected targets to screen out potential polluting industries and enterprises. Evidence collection has advanced with scientific instruments, and special inspection projects are set up and carried out. From 2017 to March 2022, environmental law enforcement efforts led to 850 violations being reported after inspections, the issuance of NT$178 million in fines, and the collection of NT$280 million in air pollution control fees.

(2) Deployment and applications of water quality sensing
1. Deployment of water quality sensors 
The EPA has been working with local governments on its water quality sensors project since 2020. As of March 2022, 17 county and city governments have participated, having together deployed 205 mobile water quality sensors and 360 hand-held ones. This allows the quality of water bodies to be monitored with real-time data sensors. 
2. Results for water quality sensing applications
The EPA’s Department of Environmental Monitoring and Information Management, the Soil and Groundwater Remediation Fund Management Board, and the Department of Water Quality Protection prevent farmland pollution using water sensors. The Irrigation Agency also cooperates, deploying water quality sensors in agricultural irrigation ditches in Kaohsiung City and Chunghwa County that enables analysis of abnormal water quality periods to help increase efficiency of inspections. With the combined efforts of the central and local governments, between 2020 and February 2022, environmental law enforcement found 26 violations and issued fines amounting to NT$24.4 million.
Establishment of a well-rounded air quality monitoring network

(1) Improvement of air quality monitoring network capacities
The EPA strives to enhance its capacity to monitor low-concentration pollutants by improving the instruments used in air quality monitoring stations. Better instruments for analyzing particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and total hydrocarbons (THC) will improve the precision of measurements and provide air quality monitoring data of such high quality that 98% of it can be utilized.
Also, equipment at air quality monitoring stations is being redeployed according to cold and warm areas, for more stable temperature control and to save energy.

(2) Multiple channels provide air quality information services
In order to provide comprehensive air quality information to the public, the Taiwan Air Quality Monitoring Network  has been developed for the public to make inquiries about the latest changes in air quality. For gaseous pollutants, real-time monitoring forecasts for the next hour are available by the minute. The website reached 14.82 million visits between 2021 to March 2022. Also, the cellphone application Environment Info Push can be used to obtain the air quality index (AQI) forecast for the next 12 hours. Users can look up air quality information whenever they want and take better protective measures by setting alarms for different concentrations based on their own sensitivities to air pollutants. Over 580,000 people had downloaded the application as of March 2022. Additionally, text messages are sent out to people in surrounding regions in real-time if air quality monitoring stations detect concentrations of particulate matter that can lead to the AQI exceeding 200.

Future prospects
As for long-term goals, the EPA will continue developing the environmental monitoring and investigation system to ensure the effective operation, processing and management of environmental monitoring data. Efforts will also be taken to continue collaborating with other departments to share data in order to get the most complete picture of the overall environmental status, trends, and improvement results, to serve as references for policy formulation.

Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, April 2022

Ministry of Environment