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Case Study

mLab Provides the Database Backbone for Air Pollution Monitoring in 9,000 Cities

AirVisual raises global awareness by democratizing air pollution data. mLab’s cloud Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) helps them deliver that critical information to millions of users.

Highlights
  • AirVisual can focus on expanding the service to more customers and communities by not managing or maintaining their MongoDB database.
  • Vast amounts of air quality and forecast data across more than 9,000 cities is delivered real-time with high availability through AirVisual's air quality API.
  • mLab’s technical support “goes the extra mile” for AirVisual, offering the growing company a much more cost-effective solution than hiring a dedicated database engineer.
Customer Profile

AirVisual provides air quality data and forecasts to individuals, companies, schools and government agencies by utilizing a distributed network of sensors currently active in over 9,000 cities worldwide. The company is a social enterprise that reinvests a portion of its profits toward the global initiative of decreasing air pollution and mitigating its effects on health and lifestyle. Enterprise clients are able to integrate AirVisual’s data into their own services, and can operate AirVisual air quality sensors for pollution monitoring at offices, schools, and other locations in order to optimize ventilation and air purification efforts. Individual users are able to check air quality information via AirVisual’s website or through its freely-available mobile apps.

The Challenge

With tens of thousands of air quality monitors collecting huge amounts of data (and a quickly growing user base), AirVisual required a dependable, highly available hosted database solution

In the early stages – after AirVisual’s founding in mid-2015 – the company considered handling its database needs in-house, relying on the internal team’s strong proficiency running MongoDB on Amazon Web Services. However, AirVisual’s technical leaders instead made the decision to utilize a hosted MongoDB database service, recognizing the advantages of focusing internal efforts on the business’ core product.

The vast sensor network and real-time nature of AirVisual’s service meant that high availability was absolutely essential to the hosted database selection – the business would depend on it. At the same time, AirVisual’s criteria required access to a highly responsive and knowledgeable technical support team that really understood what AirVisual needed to accomplish. Also, because many of AirVisual’s clients are based in Asia, the company wanted a service with server instances closer to these clients. They initially tested the waters with another hosted database service, but continued to search for a provider that could better meet all of its specific needs.

Solution

mLab’s DBaaS platform provides AirVisual with highly available MongoDB deployments and powerful database management capabilities with technical support and a transparent pricing structure ideal for the growing company.

AirVisual selected mLab as its fully managed Database-as-a-Service platform because of its excellent reputation for support and its powerful, easy-to-use database performance and optimization tools.

mLab’s highly-available database plans ensure that AirVisual’s clients around the world always have access to the air quality data they need in real-time. mLab also offers server instances based in Japan, a feature that AirVisual has taken advantage of by moving web server and API server operations to Asia to be closer to the majority of its clients, reducing latency and improving service.

mLab’s support has reliably proved to be a standout feature for AirVisual; the company has found mLab to respond quickly with answers to any questions that arise, conveying a “uniquely high degree of database expertise.” In large part due to this support – coupled with mLab’s included toolset – AirVisual has been able to optimize indexes and better manage data loads, alleviating issues that had previously proved troublesome. mLab’s Telemetry tool delivers database monitoring with at-a-glance ease and the ability to track key metrics – a feature AirVisual uses often to ensure proper database performance (and peace of mind). AirVisual also takes advantage of mLab’s Slow Query Analyzer, a feature that recommends indexes for poorly-performing queries.

Managing real-time data coming in from tens of thousands of distributed sensors and providing that data to millions of clients in cities worldwide…doing all that certainly invites some special challenges, but it has been a task that mLab has helped us perform adeptly. Beyond offering what we’ve found to be a manageable, affordable, and highly reliable DBaaS platform, mLab’s expert support truly goes the extra mile to give us fast, detailed responses anytime we have a question. mLab is much more than just hosting – it really is a service with people behind it when you need them. mLab’s Telemetry database monitoring tool is the first thing I check in the morning, and it helps me sleep more soundly at night to see that, with mLab, database operations are optimized and under control.

Yann Boquillod Founder, AirVisual

Benefits

mLab’s expert MongoDB database management, performance tools, and superb technical support have enabled AirVisual to provide customers effective air quality monitoring services while continuing expansion into additional markets

With a powerful, scalable database infrastructure in place, AirVisual’s efforts are helping to dramatically increase the awareness of dangerous air pollution across the globe. Communities are more informed, and AirVisual’s corporate customers are able to respond more quickly and effectively to poor air quality – resulting in positive impacts on the health of workers, citizens, and students. AirVisual intends to continue utilizing mLab’s database management platform and support as it expands operations to new locations, and seeks to become the global leader in air quality monitoring.

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