Air pollution is one of the number one factors that affect our quality of life and health. Currently, pollutants are measured at different stations in a city and that data is aggregated to a single number (the air quality index) and published once a day on a website. There is not enough data that gets gathered to evaluate air quality in a given neighborhood and that data is hard to find. Now a European company called Sensaris is using Bluetooth wireless sensors, used in combination with mobile phones, that allow citizens to monitor and report air and sound quality data. Its first large scale deployment is in Paris.

Pollution is location dependent. Those living next to a busy freeway or industrial area or temporarily exposed to upwind or downwind conditions are often exposed to more air and noise pollution, but do not necessarily have monitors in place to record and report those conditions. This mobile way of monitoring and reporting conditions is likely to empower citizens of these neighborhoods and key decision makers to take action.

How Does it Work?

According to Sensaris,

"The miniature wrist worn solution provided by Sensaris leverages geolocation chips (GPS or Galileo in the future) wearable devices and mobile technologies. Such sensors transform mobile phones into measurement instruments using Bluetooth communication".

"Whether used by pedestrians or cyclists, the sensors provide noise and ozone levels in real time over the Internet and web based visualization (mashups). Our Senspod technology forms the basis for innovative citizen centric services. We look forward to helping other cities use it for their own community action and urban life quality improvement plans."

We think this is potentially a wonderful tool that will empower citizens to become involved and take back some control over their quality of life. Hopefully it will force cities to pay more attention to air and noise pollution problems in less affluent neighborhoods and take steps to improve conditions.