Here are a few examples of how some communities are using citizen science, big data analytics, and the Internet of Things to engage citizens in air quality monitoring.
Chicago’s Array of Things (AoT) is an urban sensing project, a network of 500 interactive, modular sensor boxes that will be installed around Chicago to collect real-time data on the city’s environment, infrastructure, and activity for research and public use. AoT will essentially serve as a “fitness tracker” for the city, measuring factors that impact livability in Chicago such as climate, air quality, noise, and congestion. The National Science Foundation provided a $3.1 million dollar grant to fund the project. Data measured by AoT will be publicly available for free through the City of Chicago Data Portal and other open data platforms.
Point of contact: Robert Mitchum
The BEACO2N pilot project observes the greenhouse gas, CO2, along with other air quality indicators gases (NO, NO2, O3, CO, and properties of aerosol) at approximately 25 fixed locations in and around Oakland, CA. Recognized as part of President Obama’s Climate Data Initiative, the project aims to achieve four goals. First, it will advance scientific understanding of emissions of gases and particles to the atmosphere; second, it will expand citizens’ understanding of and access to data about variation in air quality; third, it will provide actionable guidance to policy makers about controlling emissions; and fourth, it will engage the public through educational programs and publicly accessible data.
Initial results show that the network provides insight into the usual daily traffic related emissions and to unusual events such as ships moving in and out of the port of Oakland and the temporary closure of the Oakland-SF Bay Bridge. In addition, the CO2 measurements are displayed for visitors in the Exploratorium in San Francisco and BEACO2N is widely used in science classrooms in the San Francisco Bay region.
Point of contact: Ronald C. Cohen
The Geolocated Allergen Sensing Platform (GASP) will deploy a network of advanced sensors to detect asthma-aggravating particles and pollen in metropolitan Chattanooga, TN. The sensors also will gather air-quality data such as location, temperature, pressure, humidity, and levels of six other pollutants. A key component of the project will connect the sensors to an ultra-high- speed computer network, allowing vast amounts of data to be gathered and transmitted in real time.
Point of contact: Dr. David Lary
In coordination with the Oak Bluffs and Edgartown Shellfish Wardens and a marine biologist and aqua farmer, HereLab is providing Long Range (LoRa) enabled sensors — temperature and dissolved oxygen — for water quality monitoring and data in local ponds. These sensors will provide real-time and historical data in order to understand oxygen and temperature in deep ‘holes’ and will profile ponds for hypoxic (low oxygen) areas, etc. The low cost of these sensors will enable wide deployment and in the field ‘labs’ which could support ongoing pond profiles. In addition, they are deploying solar powered, cellular LoRa gateways for site-specific sensor coverage and remote gateway power and data transmission. These and other applications will produce real-time and historical community data. HereLab considers this an essential Public Onramp which they feel is vital to broad understanding, action and pond/aquatic life sustainability. HereLab plans to deploy pilot labs in Lagoon Pond, Edgartown Great Pond and Sengekontacket Pond on Martha’s Vineyard and Fiddler’s Cove, in N. Falmouth and to provide mapped data in the summer or fall of 2016.
Using citizen sensors and public infrastructure, Montgomery County, Maryland is developing a new way to use buses and bus stops as platforms for collecting data and distributing information. The cornerstone project is the Safe Community Alert (SCALE) Network, which will test and build the capacity to deliver Internet of Things technologies, including air quality monitoring.
Point of contact: Daniel Hoffman
The City of Paris launched an ambitious campaign called ‘Reinventons nos places’, which means ‘Let’s reinvent our squares.’ Its goal is to improve the quality of life, enhance public spaces and promote new uses for seven Parisian squares that have strong historic and symbolic value. The data can be used to develop sustainable transport modes. In Place de la Nation square, a large scale pilot, led by Cisco, will collect noise, air pollution and usage data. The results are shared with citizens using touch screens in the square as well as with open data online. BreezoMeter is implementing the air quality monitoring aspects of the pilot. It defined the number, locations and type of air quality sensors needed, and has analyzed the data to provide real-time pollutant concentrations, alerts and insights about what may be affecting pollution levels. Other smart and sustainable cities can use this air quality command and control platform for urban redesign and daily operations.
Point of contact: Ziv Lautman