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Chula Engineering develops air quality monitoring innovation

Image Credits: Sensor For All, Website, Press Release

Thailand’s PM2.5 dust particles level has been ranked as one of the highest in the world and poses health risks to the urban population. Having a reliable tool developed by Thais themselves to warn the public of PM2.5 dust conditions is crucial, and the “Sensor for All” project by Chula Engineering is an answer to this problem.

Over the past three years, a team of multidisciplinary experts of Chula Engineering has been working on installing sensor nodes, starting on the Chula campus, and expanding to cover the whole country.

Prof. Dr. Pisut Painmanakul, a lecturer of the Department of Environmental Engineering, Deputy Dean for Innovation Strategy for the Faculty of Engineering, and Head of the “Sensor for All” Project, revealed that the PM2.5 problem is mainly caused by human behaviour and their lifestyle and daily routine.

From an environmental scientist’s view, the solution requires four elements: sufficient quantitative and qualitative databases, centralized data analysis and information dissemination by one agency, issuing of participatory policies, and participation of local communities in monitoring the situations.

Prof. Dr. Pisut said that the Sensor for All project, which started almost 10 years ago, stemmed from the air-quality sensor network innovation project — a collaboration among lecturers from Environmental Engineering, Survey Engineering, and Electrical Engineering departments.

“We wanted our innovation to be used widely, and sustainably. Therefore, the Sensor for All project was born. In the first couple of years, the project focused on inviting participation from various agencies to create sustainability for Thai society,” he said.

Initially, the Sensor for All project began with the development of PM2.5 sensors and installing them in the area around the Chula campus. The second year was dedicated to data transfer and display, as well as expanding the coverage to include all areas of Bangkok through collaboration with the National Housing Authority and True Corporation.

Moreover, dissemination of information in the form of a booklet entitled “A Battle to Kill Dust” was published to educate young people. The third year of the project was launched last November with an instalment of PM2.5 sensors at 1,000 locations throughout Thailand by Chula Engineering and project partners.

Currently, the public can get daily air quality data and information on the Sensor for All website and their social media page (Sensor for All).

A smartphone application is under development and expected to be released in mid-February 2021. Interesting features of the app include air quality and PM2.5 indexes and forecasts, accurately provided by locally developed sensors, information sharing to contribute to sustainability, and interactions between users and the application developers.

“The most valuable commodity in this era is not money, but data. What adds value to data is a dedicated team of experts.  Sensor for All will serve as one of the prototypes of innovation towards sustainability, showcasing the capability of Thai people.  The success of this project will be expanded to find solutions in other areas, including plastic waste and natural disasters,” Prof. Dr. Pisut concluded.

According to another press release, the PM 2.5 volume sensor, developed by the Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Engineering, can measure PM 2.5, PM 10 dust, temperature and humidity, as well as calculate the AQI and display the results through both the sensor screen and the website to indicate the level of impact on health.

30 PM 2.5 sensors will be installed throughout Bangkok and its vicinity in the early stages of instalment and they will be ready to receive support from government agencies and private sectors who want to join as a network to measure PM 2.5 small particles.

To find ways to manage the current air pollution, data from all sensors will be processed along with meteorological data. Hot spot information, traffic information, as well as other relevant information, will be included to fully analyse and predict the sources of PM 2.5 dust and to propose a policy for solving the PM 2.5 problem and to create a healthy society in Thailand.

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