In 2016, Glasgow, Scotland, was named as one of the United Kingdom’s most air polluted cities by the World Health Organization (WHO).
According to WHO, when air quality declines, the risk of heart disease, lung cancer, stroke and respiratory diseases increases especially for young children, the elderly and the poor.
“Urban air pollution continues to rise at an alarming rate, wreaking havoc on human health,” said Dr. Maria Neira, director of the Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health at WHO. “At the same time, awareness is rising and more cities are monitoring their air quality. When air quality improves, global respiratory and cardiovascular-related illnesses decrease.”
To raise awareness and start monitoring the air quality in real time, Glasgow is being used as a pilot program for ‘Sensing the City.’ The new program is an air quality network that uses the Internet of Things (IoT) to collect data for comparing pollution models and identifying trends. It’s a collaboration between the University of Strathclyde Institute for Future Cities and the Centre for Sensor and Imaging Systems (CENSIS).
The network is comprised of three primary components: sensor node, sensor hub and a cloud-based user interface. The sensor nodes monitor carbon dioxide, particulate matter, temperature, humidity and pressure and relay the information back to the sensor hub. The hubs in turn relay the information and GPS data to the cloud where it can be analyzed and accessed through the user interface. The components were packaged in suitcase-sized boxes and strapped to the roof of University of Strathclyde vehicles and driven around the city.
The IoT monitoring program provides a low-cost mobile solution to complement the existing static stations currently in use. While the stationary stations provide highly accurate data, their high cost limits their deployment.
Monitoring programs such as Sensing the City are part of the growing trend of creating smart cities. According to Navigant Research, the global smart city technology market is expected to surge to $88 billion by 2025.
As the global population increases, urban cities will depend more heavily on IoT sensors and communication technology so their energy services and infrastructure run more efficiently and their citizens remain healthy.