Feeling the Heat? This Bus Stop Keeps You Cool — and Safe
Taking the heat out of the daily commute, a ‘smart’ bus stop, designed by ST Engineering, is currently on trial to help commuters mitigate traffic pollution.
Exposure to particulate matter (PM) — a key air pollutant common in haze periods — can cause breathing problems and worsen existing heart or lung diseases. But it’s not just the haze we should be worrying about; the average Singaporean spends up to 420 minutes every month breathing in more toxic pollutant particles at the unlikeliest of places: the bus stop.
Pollution at Bus Stops: the Silent Killer
According to a recent study funded by the National Research Foundation, you may be polluting your lungs with 3.5 times more fine pollutant particles at bus stops than anywhere else.
These fine particles from vehicle emissions are 100 times smaller than the PM2.5 pollutants that make many fear the haze, which has visited Singapore in recent years due to fires burning in the region.
These bus stop particles are small enough to enter your lungs and be absorbed into your bloodstream. By exposing yourself to such pollutants, you could inadvertently corrode the walls of the air sacs in your lungs, worsen heart diseases and raise the risk of a stroke, even at a relatively young age.
Next Stop: the Smart Bus Stop
The good news for our health is that cooler, smarter and safer bus stops are now just a few stops away.
Developed by ST Engineering, the Airbitat is an energy-smart outdoor cooler that “inhales” warm air from the surroundings and releases cool air as low as 24 degrees Celsius — much like the air conditioning in our homes.
However, unlike air conditioners, the Airbitat automatically adjusts its cooling cycle based on the heat of the surroundings and the number of people that need cooling. It works without the need for refrigerants or compressors, which are common culprits of energy loss and inefficiency in conventional coolers.
Heat wave, you say? This cooling tower lowers outdoor temperatures to 24 degrees Celsius
Mount a modified version of the Airbitat on the rooftop of a bus shelter and — voila! — the warm and humid bus stop will feel like an air-conditioned sanctuary. This system, known as the Airbitat Oasis, is currently being trialled at a bus stop along Orchard Road, just outside Plaza Singapura.
Here’s how it works: warm, ambient air around the bus stop enters the Airbitat cooling unit and is converted into cool air streams. Cool air is then released back into the surroundings through ceiling-mounted air ducts at the bus stop.
But it’s not just about comfort.
The Airbitat Oasis bus stop also helps to combat toxic air pollution at bus stops by purification. The purification module first filters large particles such as dirt and debris. Then, the air is electrically charged to trap smaller particles in a dense honeycomb structure, removing harmful pollutants from the air streams.
In contrast to air conditioners, the Airbitat’s purification module does not obstruct air flow or require filters to be replaced frequently. Trust us, your lungs will be thankful for this in the long run.
A Bus Stop that Looks Out for You
The Airbitat Oasis also doubles up as a security guard. It is equipped with cameras that monitor the area within the bus stop. Using a combination of specialised software and machine learning algorithms, the video footage is automatically analysed to detect objects such as unattended bags or suspicious activities like loitering.
If something suspicious is detected, the bus stop will raise an alert. In the current test-bedding stage, these alerts are sent to the ST Engineering team, but once the test is successfully completed, the company plans to work with government authorities to find the most appropriate safety or security team to be alerted.
With cleverly designed technologies to combat air pollution and heat, this bus stop might just earn the right to be called the smartest and coolest in town.
ST Engineering is a portfolio company of Temasek.