Could smart cities improve indoor air quality with home sensors?

To most people, air pollution comes from factories and car exhausts, but indoor air quality impacts – from smoke, paints, varnishes, and spores – are quickly becoming a bigger cause for concern.

That’s according to an international team of researchers led by the University of Surrey, who claim the lack of real-time data on indoor air pollution is a major issue that leads to the millions of deaths every year.

“It is essential that we are able to effectively monitor indoor air pollution so that we can better understand when and where levels are worst, and in turn offer solutions to make our air healthier,” said Dr Prashant Kumar of the University of Surrey. “Our work looks at the use of small, low-energy monitoring sensors that would be able to gather real-time data and tell families or workers when levels of pollutants are too high.”

The sensors, according to the report, would help manage indoor air pollution levels and offer advice on how to lower the pollution. Kumar claims that just opening a window can reduce indoor air pollution, but without the relevant data families are in the dark about dangers in their own home.

A call for better indoor air quality efforts

“We are calling for greater importance to be placed on ensuring buildings are built with indoor pollution monitoring in mind,” said Kumar. “As we enter the age of smart cities this is one way in which technology will actively benefit health. A combination of policy and technology will help ensure that while we are hard at work our buildings are also working to protect us from harmful pollutants that affect both mind and body.”

Forcing homeowners to have sensors fitted into their home might be a tough sell, even in smart cities. We suspect the best way to go about this is subsidizing smart home devices that offer this functionality, which would entice companies like Nest that already track smoke levels with their smoke detector.

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