The air sensor data gap

Air sensors are becoming more reliable and accurate, and also increasingly affordable. As this trend continues, a vast majority of the population may be intrigued to own their own sensors and monitor their local air quality.

A lot of work is being done to improve the quality of not only stationary sensors but also mobile sensors so that people can carry them wherever they go and always be aware of the air quality in their immediate surroundings.

As the low-cost air sensor revolution grows exponentially, the need to fill the void of large scale data hosting and availability in the public domain becomes critical.

Some air sensor devices provide single pollutant concentrations; others record multi-pollutant concentrations (like Particulate Matter PM2.5 and PM10, CO, CO2, NOx, etc.) and also measure meteorological parameters like temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, wind direction, atmospheric pressure and sunlight intensity. Most sensors capture these data elements at a very high time frequency (e.g., once per second) and produce very large volumes of data within a short period of time.

Currently, regulatory-grade data is published solely by government agencies and efforts have been made to aggregate all available regulatory data. A centralized repository of air quality data from low- and medium-cost sensors presents an unprecendented opportunity for air quality analysis and research at neighborhood granularity. Such a repository could provide great value to various air quality stakeholders outside the regulatory monitoring framework.

Get involved

To support the low-cost sensor revolution and to understand the impacts of air quality on life, a well structured data management system is necessary. Data from all sensors in a centralized database are needed so that advanced analytics can be performed and solutions to cleaner air can be identified.

To achieve this goal, ASW has started developing a Data Platform and is committed to make it open source and open access while maintaining necessary privacy and security of data.

People who would be interested in contributing to this cause might include:

  1. People who own sensors or sensor data and are willing to upload data to the Data Platform. These data form the building blocks of the Data Platform and facilitate analysis and research.
  2. People interested in analyzing the collected data, producing reports to visualize raw data and results from analysis, identifying impacts of air quality on life, etc.
  3. Open source community to help enhance the Data Platform's utility by building tools, functions, new features, etc.
  4. Researchers and companies who are developing air quality sensors. By collaborating with ASW, they can provide valuable inputs on developing common data standards that make their sensors more efficient in the field. When they adopt these standards, more people who are motivated to contribute to the larger good may be encouraged to buy those sensors. The Data Platform is being designed to support future requirements such as auto-calibration for sensor reliability and scaling the sensor deployment which may drive demand for those sensors in the marketplace.

If you have sensor data to share, please reach out to ASW.