Those suffering from respiratory problems derived from pollution in the air may soon have the chance to view real-time data regarding the conditions in their own neighborhood, thanks to computer scientists from the University of California San Diego.
The researchers have built a small fleet of portable pollution sensors that they sent out into the area during a field test — the sensors allow users to monitor air quality in real-time and view the results on their smart phone.
“We want to get more data and better data, which we can provide to the public,” said William Griswold, a computer science professor at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego and the lead investigator on the project. “We are making the invisible visible.”
The information is linked to a users’ smartphones, as well as those without sensors, by way of the application.
Furthermore, deploying 100 sensors into a region could generate a really useful dataset beyond that which is currently provided by EPA-mandated air-quality monitoring stations. For example, San Diego County has a population of 3.1 million residents over approximately 4,000 square miles and only 10 air-monitoring stations.
The CitiSense sensors detect levels of ozone, nitrogen, and carbon monoxide, the three most common pollutants expelled by cars and trucks that are damaging to the human respiratory system. The smartphone application subsequently reveals the data by way of a colour-coded scale for air quality based on the EPA’s air quality ratings ranging from green for good through to purple for hazardous.