Monday, September 30, 2013

How to Monitor Urban Air Pollution? Go Fly a Kite!

Kite detects pollution, shines light on Beijing smog (Holden Frith, for CNN, Sep. 4, 2013)

Also discussed here: FLOAT Beijing

And here: Stars in the Haze(6 mi documentary video, Joshua Frank, Dec. 20, 2012)

Today we review a description of an award-winning project by a graduate student at Harvard University which adds air quality sensors (for ozone, carbon monoxide and particulates) to kites along with a display of trailing lights that indicates the relative pollution in real-time to those below.

float beijing  

Key Quotes:

FLOAT Beijing, a network of air-quality monitors fixed to the kites traditionally flown across the city. Lights controlled by sensorS and trailing along the kite string like fireflies would give a simple readout of pollution levels: green for safe and red for danger.”

“The sensors used for the project measure carbon monoxide, ozone and general particulates.”

"We didn't just collect the data and put it on a spreadsheet online…We displayed it in a way that was really intuitive. Everyone understood that different colors mean different pollution levels and just the activity of kite flying itself was also a really exciting way to distribute information."

“Conceived by U.S. graduate students Xiaowei Wang and Deren Guler, FLOAT organized workshops in Beijing to teach both veteran and fledgling kite flyers how to build simple pollution sensors that travel into the Chinese capital’s soupy skies and send data back to the people on the ground.”
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