February 29, 2024

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Low-cost Sensor Networks in U.S. for Monitoring Extreme Air Pollution

Image source: mit.edu

Extreme and dangerous air pollution events cause a major threat to public health and safety. Monitoring the pollutants in the atmosphere and predicting the level of human exposure are challenging. In the United States, the primary sources of outdoor air-quality data are from ground-based, government-regulated air-quality monitoring systems that measure pollutants such as ozone and particulate matter.

In a new study funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. researchers demonstrate an alternate approach for monitoring extreme air-quality events with the use of low-cost sensor (LCS) networks. The work was carried out in mid-2018 on the Island of Hawaii when the eruption of a volcano filled the air with toxic sulfurous gases and particles. In response, the researchers developed and deployed a network of 40 low-cost sensors around the island to monitor the vog in real-time,

The sensor provided a much higher resolution of localised levels of air pollution than existing air-quality measurements. The paper demonstrates the power of LCS networks in their ability to map pollution exposure and chemical transformation of air pollutants for air-quality research, public health monitoring, and emergency response.

The lead researcher stated that there is a real demand for data and information about the air people are breathing. These low-cost sensors and the regulatory air monitoring systems are necessary to understand what is happening in the air people are breathing.

The sensors provided real-time levels of two toxic components of vog: sulfur dioxide gas (SO2) and airborne particles The sensors are also solar-powered, so they were deployed in remote areas of the island and communicated wirelessly over the cellular network. Due to the small size and low cost of the sensors, the researchers were able to place the sensors at different distances downwind of the volcano, to estimate the full distribution of pollution levels that people were exposed to in all areas around the island.

The data showed a wide range of pollutant exposure. Some residents were exposed to clean air the entire time, while people living in different points downwind of the volcano were exposed to different mixes of pollutants. With the large number of sensors deployed, the researchers were able to quantify these exposures with much higher resolution than is normally possible.

Capturing the pollutant exposure in the atmosphere around the island allowed the researchers to witness how the plume was chemically changing with time. By having sensors at different distances downwind of the event, the researchers were able to estimate the rate at which one pollutant, sulfur dioxide, reacts in the atmosphere and converts into a different one.

Hawaii’s pristine environment, with its small number of pollutants, simple chemistry, and straightforward meteorology, was the ideal test environment to establish the viability of this approach. But this general approach could also be used for measuring urban smog and wildfires. The low-cost, compact, solar-powered design of the sensors allows for the technology to be deployed in several configurations, allowing it to be linked to other air-quality data sources and technologies.

People can use the information from sensors, together with other data sources, to make informed decisions about the health and safety of communities. It also provides an entryway into educating and bringing peace of mind to communities that live with the dangers and harmful effects from reoccurring extreme air-quality events.

The sensor could be used for both science and community engagement as the researchers placed sensors at schools health clinics and some private residences. These types of sensors provide a real opportunity for people and communities to engage in their own air-quality monitoring that’s independent of government monitoring systems.

Poor air quality is one of the largest environmental risk factors for premature mortality, heightened by extreme air-quality events that are becoming annual events in parts of the world. LCS networks provide a way forward for other communities to monitor air quality, especially resource-limited regions where air-quality monitoring systems are even more sparse or nonexistent.

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Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

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CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Well-known for our strengths in system integration and consultation, CTC Global proves to be the preferred IT outsourcing destination for organizations all over Singapore today.

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Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

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SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

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HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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