Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Citizen-Led Air Quality Sensor Networks

The Air Quality Egg Project (An Open Hardware project in New York, NY by @EdBorden)

 Also discussed here: Air Quality Egg (Wiki) And here: You can help build an open air quality sensor network (Pachube, Dec. 7, 2011)

 And here: MIMAQ (15 slides, mobile pollution sensors)

And here: Air Quality Monitoring: A Few Precedents (12 page pdf, NYC Open Sensor Network Workshop, Dec. 2, 2011)

The focus today is on a developing citizen-led air quality network in New York City and in other cities worldwide. The Air Quality Egg Project makes use of low cost technology and many volunteers to produce high resolution maps of the urban air environment which provides much more detail than conventional regional networks operated by the government.

Key Quotes:  

The Air Quality Egg is a sensor system designed to allow anyone to collect very high resolution readings of NO2 and CO concentrations outside of their home”

“The basic unit comes in two parts: a “base station” RF platform that would plug directly into the ethernet port of a wi-fi router, and an enclosed sensor node that communicates wirelessly within 40-50 yards…Applications will be limited and basic at the outset as the design of the network has the enablement of third-party applications at its core…. This group's sensor systems will be the start, but the network will be open to adding hardware (eggs) designed by others onto the core base station.”

“The air quality data collected by the government is likely sampled from far, far away and then applied to you on a regional level, almost completely useless from the standpoint of trying to understand or change the local dynamics of pollution that affect you.”

 “ultrasensitive sensors that have very localized measurements may actually be a problem as they provide too localized information to be useful (peak when a scooter passes by)”

 “sensors behave differently though measuring the same pollutant - even if they are from the same production unit. It is not even clear what they measure exactly, in some cases (due to correlated pollutants amongst others). One solution would be sensor arrays (of different sensors measuring the same thing)”

 “combine low-cost + more sophisticated sensors, air quality models and contextual information”
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