South Korean capital deploys drones to fight air pollution

Seoul’s city government will use drones and measurement vehicles to closely monitor fine dust emissions in construction and industry sectors.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) is seeking to induce large companies to voluntarily cut emissions while actively cracking down on the operation of unauthorised or restricted facilities.

Fine dust monitoring

Additionally, SMG plans to deploy 55 inspection teams to monitor businesses and construction sites during the third seasonal fine dust monitoring period (December 2021 to March 2022).

Large construction sites subject to environmental impact assessment (EIA), and in areas congested with small businesses will come under the joint inspection of the SMG and the Metropolitan Air Quality Management Office.

When drones and measurement vehicles detect a high density of contaminants, inspection teams will be dispatched to conduct an on-site investigation of the suspect facility. Any violation of regulation may result in accusations, fines, or administrative penalties under Seoul’s zero tolerance policy.

SMG cautions that businesses creating a significant amount of fine dust should voluntarily cut the amount during the seasonal monitoring period.

Furthermore, Seoul plans to introduce more stringent control systems than before. It will, for example, run a pilot programme where private companies run eco-friendly construction sites for large-scale construction deals.

To help kick-start an on-site inspection system where citizens can participate, the SMG hired 50 citizen inspectors in October, and these inspectors have been patrolling and monitoring air pollutants in neighbourhoods on a daily basis from November.

The monitoring process is currently divided into automatic detection apparatus for chimneys of large facilities, while IoT-powered measuring devices, and simplified fine dust measuring devices are used for construction sites. Seoul plans to integrate them and conduct monitoring through the integrated air environment information system.

“We will increase our effort to reduce high-density fine dust by aggressively monitoring major emitting sources during the seasonal monitoring period,” said Ha Dong-Joon, director of Air Quality Policy Division.

Asking for citizen participation, he added: “Please do not hesitate to report businesses or construction sites suspicious of emitting air pollutants.”



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