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Monitor Air Pollution with Smartphone Accessed Portable Sensors

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Photo credit: Some rights reserved by jfingas via Flickr

Photo credit: Some rights reserved by jfingas via Flickr

Air pollution is one of the most pressing environmental problems that we have in the modern era. Though our oceans suck up a considerable amount our emissions, most of it is still scattered around in the air. Our carbon emissions and other noxious gaseous stuff contribute directly to global warming, and make air generally less breathable than how it was before.

But while we don’t have a magical, one snap solution that can rid of us of air pollution,  researchers at the University of California, San Diego have provided us with a handy, easy way for us to know and learn about air pollution levels in our area.

CItiSense is described as an active monitoring system that is used to provide real-time updated data about the surrounding area’s air pollution levels. As mentioned earlier, it was developed by computer scientists at the University of California, San Diego. The air quality data that the sensor collects is relayed to a custom app, which a user can easily install and use on a mobile device or computer. In other words, it is a separate air pollution sensor that is used with an app to check the data that it collects. The size of the sensor is just roughly as big as three large smartphones stacked together, and the three cylindrical components inside it are able to detect ozone, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide.

Just simply monitoring air pollution levels already hold a lot of potential benefits. For example, people with asthma or any similar respiratory condition could warn themselves beforehand if a certain area would be more air polluted than others at certain time. The air quality data could also be used to know if pollution levels in a certain area would already require a more serious course of action.

Since the data is coming from the sensor itself, with only the app acting as an access interface, multiple devices can be used to retrieve the data from the same sensor. This means that a single CitiSense sensor can be accessed by many users to check on the air pollution levels of that certain area.

The researchers used and tested a considerable number of their CItiSense sensors, and have provided results that are more than satisfactory. They even claim that with just 100 of such small sensors deployed, we would be able to collect a large amount of data that surpasses the amount regularly collected by 10 EPA-mandated air-quality monitoring systems within a 4000 square mile area. Their ultimate goal is to be able to create an entire network of sensors throughout the town or city, so that any user could know the pollution levels in any part of the city/town at any given moment or time.

The materials cost of one custom CitiSense sensor currently costs $1000. However, they could develop a simpler version, which can be mass produced at a relatively affordable price.

Christian Crisostomo
About Christian Crisostomo (266 Posts)

Christian Crisostomo is just your average tech geek that loves to see man's newest and most recent technological exploits. He holds great interest in the potentials of green technology, and is enthusiastic about the continuous development of environment-friendly alternative energy.


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One Comment on “Monitor Air Pollution with Smartphone Accessed Portable Sensors

  1. Connecting environmental issues with technology is the right step towards getting majority of people involved in addressing pressuring issues of the environment. Considering the pace at which technology is moving in our current generation, having an app that monitors air pollution opens opportunities for similar apps to be developed. It is also good to know that a more affordable version of the app is underway.

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