Air pollution is a big topic at the moment, with key global cities taking steps to address the issue, such as banning cars from particular areas or at particular times of day. According to figures from the World Health Organization (WHO), some 7 million people worldwide died prematurely as a result of exposure to air pollution during 2012.
Measuring air quality is thus considered a vital component of smart city infrastructure and, with that in mind, semiconductor giant Intel and manufacturing and engineering company Bosch have joined forces to produce an air quality measuring kit.
The Intel-based Bosch Air Quality Micro Climate Monitoring System (MCMS) is designed to take a very wide range of measurements. These include monitoring levels of what the US Environmental Protection Agency refers to as ‘criteria pollutants’, which include particulate matter, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and ground-level ozone.
The system also measures temperature, relative humidity, light (including ultraviolet), sound and pressure.
What makes the MCMS sensor device stand out is that it is one-hundredth of the size of more traditional air quality monitoring stations. Bosch claims the end-to-end MCMS system (which includes software, sensors and service) is cheaper, too, in comparison to the $150,000 to $250,000 price tags more commonly associated with monitoring stations. The MCMS devices are also extremely light, making them easy to install and relocate within an urban area, as needed.
The MCMS service is underpinned by the Intel IoT Platform and Wind River’s Helix Device Cloud for edge device management. This provides access to measurement data, remote monitoring of devices, cloud-based analytics, data management and visualization software. Built-in security and the ability to scale up to 5G and other machine-to-machine connectivity technologies are key advantages, according to Intel and Bosch.
All about the data
With access to cloud analytics, it is possible to generate time and location-based trend analysis for forecasting and studying the effects of policy changes over time – for example, the impact that traffic restrictions have on a particular area of town.
Meanwhile, the monitoring units can generate real-time alerts, so that authorities can issue warnings to the public, for example, if air quality deteriorates.
Further uses include the monitoring of industrial settings, to help businesses meet the demands of environmental and worker safety regulations.
As Dr Chris Harding, director of tech industry consortium The Open Group told Internet of Business: “Air quality information could be used by multiple smart city applications, including city planning, traffic management, and health statistics analysis. It could be made available as open data for use by third-party applications, for example to help people choose where to live.”
“These applications typically are not all planned together at the same time, but are developed by different organizations at different times, in response to citizens’ changing needs and priorities. The challenge is to create a data architecture in which this data can be combined with data of other kinds (street plans, traffic flows, demographics, and so on) as and when required by the applications that use it.”