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New device for monitoring air pollution on smart phones

New device for monitoring air pollution on smart phones

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First Posted: Dec 26, 2012 03:10 PM EST
Air pollution
New device allows monitoring air pollution on smart phones in real-time. (Photo : UCSD)

A small fleet of experimental portable pollution sensors built by computer scientists at the University of California, San Diego, allow users to monitor air quality in real time on their smart phones.

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The so called CitiSense sensors are able to detect ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide, the most common pollutants emitted by cars and trucks. An Android or iPhone app provides the user interface and displays the sensor's readings on a smart phone by using a color-coded scale for air quality based on the EPA's air quality ratings, from green (good) to purple (hazardous).

"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.

The ultimate goal of CitiSense is to build and deploy a wireless network in which hundreds of small environmental sensors carried by the public rely on cell phones to shuttle information to central computers where it will be analyzed, anonymized and delivered to individuals, public health agencies and the community at large. The sensors currently cost $1,000 per unit, but could easily be mass-produced at an affordable price. So far, Griswold's team has built and deployed 20 of them in the field.

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