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Posts tagged ‘air quality’

Advanced Sensor Networks Developed for Heathrow Airport

Modelling of air pollution around busy urban areas such as airports is a complex task. Ground stations for monitoring air quality and compliance reporting are usually limited in number, because of cost, to a few strategic locations. More recently given the advances in sensors, electronics and communication technologies it is now possible to design and build networked sensor nodes at a fraction of the cost of traditional systems. These breakthroughs in technology make it possible to implement large-scale sensor networks in city environments. A team led by Professor Rod Jones at the University of Cambridge, funded by NERC, is now doing just that for Heathrow Airport to better understand and develop sophisticated computer models for air quality in the vicinity of this busy international airport. Supporting the University of Cambridge are experts in sensors, electronics and computing at Imperial College, the Universities of Hertfordshire and Manchester, Cambridge Environmental Research Consultant and the National Physical Laboratory. An important collaborator in the project is the sensor manufacturer Alphasense Ltd.

The sensor nodes currently being installed around Heathrow include a wide array of sensors for measuring gases such as NO, NO2, CO, CO2, SO2, O3, VOCs and particle sizes of emissions. Sensor nodes in addition measure temperature, humidity and wind speed/direction and incorporate positioning (GPS) and communication electronics (GPRS). These networked sensor nodes are small enough form factor to enable them to be located easily on existing structures around the airport.

The network of nearly 50 sensor nodes will transmit environmental data in real-time via GPRS to a central database. Computer models will then combine on the ground sensor measurements with meteorological information as well as aircraft and road traffic data to predict air quality around the Heathrow Airport vicinity. A critical element of this proposal is the ability to detect the chemical signatures of individual aircraft movements.

More info here.

Intel’s Sensors Will Warn You About Running Outside When The Air Is Polluted

Imagine a network of air quality monitors that kept you constantly up to date about big gusts of bad air. It’s on its way, and it might be partly powered by your own phone.

Imagine: you’re gearing up to take a jog along your regular route when an app on your smartphone pushes out a message: air pollution levels are high in the park where you like to run, so maybe you should try a recommended route that’s cleaner today. It doesn’t sound incredibly far-fetched; many cities already have pollution and weather sensors. But they’re usually located on top of buildings, far from human activity.

Intel has developed sensors that can be placed closer to the ground–on lamp posts and traffic lights, for example–to create what Intel senior principal engineer Terry O’Shea calls “a community-based approach to sensing.”

Intel is piloting a deployment of its pollution and weather sensors within a month in Dublin, Ireland. The goal: to put the sensors on both main roads and smaller streets to see if the company can create a real-time picture of health in the city. The weather sensors can track temperature, humidity, wind direction, and wind speed, while the pollution sensors track oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide.

There are a number of use cases for the technology–asthma sufferers will obviously benefit greatly, for example. According to O’Shea, a canal effect causes wind blowing along major thoroughfares to peel off into side streets and alleyways, where air contaminants end up as a result. So in big cities, “when it’s too hot and you want to open the windows, you want to know if you’ll get a bunch of pollution because there’s a big baseball game happened that day,” he says.

Eventually, Intel anticipates that sensors already in smartphones will also contribute to weather and pollution data aggregation. “Data coming from people on the streets can be aggregated back to city management dashboards,” explains Intel Labs researcher Jessica McCarthy.

Intel won’t reveal how much the sensors cost–they’re still in the prototype phase, anyway–but O’Shea says that they are ” two orders of magnitude below the cost level” of current sensors.

More info here.

AirBase air quality sensor unit

AirBase Systems is an Israeli start-up that developed a low cost, easy to use air quality sensors unit (market price around $500). The monitoring unit can be used indoors and outdoors. The system is currently equipped to measure levels of Ozone, NO2, Total VOC, TSP – Total Suspended Particles, Noise, Relative Humidity and Temperatures. Other stressors can be added to the unit, such as Odor, Light, SO2 The highly compact sensors are stored in a “home router” like box that is simply powered-in and hooked to the internet (Wi-Fi or GSM) – just plug & play. Immediately after it is connected, the sensors are operative, sending a pulse of information every 20 second. Any deviation from the allowed (or inputted) exposure standard will generate an immediate alert.

In the spatial application, the sensors are connected via the Internet onto a city-wide or country-wide network. This network continuously gauges air contaminants information. With this deployed network, Airbase will aggregate data, analyze it and deliver alerts through a friendly user interface in a variety of channels and forms, including the internet (open GIS), mobile devices and apps. The operating cost varies according to the size of the network. Airbase’s revolutionary patent pending technology will enable its users to become far more aware of the quality of the air they inhale and will equip its users with the practical tools to protect their health.

AirBase is a solution that offers comprehensive answers to the most crucial mobile challenges offering: precise information; full coverage – outdoors and indoors; personal guidelines and feedbacks; centralization and simple – highly accessible sensors per unit price.

More info here.

Monitoring indoor and outdoor air quality to prevent accidents and improve life quality

Libelium has posted two interesting articles about how to improve industrial processes and get a better air quality in cities by monitoring the indoor and outdoor levels of gases such as CO, CO2, NO2 and O3.

The first article shows how CO2 emissions from road transport (half of them come from urban transport) have increased by 32% since 1990. Each liter of fuel burnt is issuing up to 2.3 kg of CO2, so each person who uses the car for journeys to work (with an average distance of approximately 15 km) emits about 2 tonnes of CO2 a year. Use gas sensors to monitor pollution levels in central cities is key to provide adequate information to citizens and take actions to reduce it.

The second article is related to production processes in industry, agriculture, viticulture and livestock which require specific environmental conditions to be monitored at all times, and how these processes can generate air pollutants that can be harmful and even deadly to workers in certain concentrations. The fact of having a monitoring system allows to control the parameters, send alerts via ZigBee and GPRS and even activate mechanisms through actuators.

Access to the articles in the Libelium World section.

Real Time Noise and Air Quality Monitoring Over Mobile Internet

Air pollution is one of the number one factors that affect our quality of life and health. Currently, pollutants are measured at different stations in a city and that data is aggregated to a single number (the air quality index) and published once a day on a website. There is not enough data that gets gathered to evaluate air quality in a given neighborhood and that data is hard to find. Now a European company called Sensaris is using Bluetooth wireless sensors, used in combination with mobile phones, that allow citizens to monitor and report air and sound quality data. Its first large scale deployment is in Paris.

Pollution is location dependent. Those living next to a busy freeway or industrial area or temporarily exposed to upwind or downwind conditions are often exposed to more air and noise pollution, but do not necessarily have monitors in place to record and report those conditions. This mobile way of monitoring and reporting conditions is likely to empower citizens of these neighborhoods and key decision makers to take action.

More info here and here.