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Sensing in the city

CENSIS and the University of Glasgow are working together on the Sensing the City project which will be used for other smart city applications in the future

The mobile air quality system has been integrated into vans
The mobile air quality system has been integrated into vans

Key air parameters in different areas are dynamically measured

Platform will extend to other smart city applications in the future

Libelium and CENSIS, the centre of excellence for Sensor and Imaging Systems technologies, have developed a portable system based on wireless sensor networks to monitor air quality, meet regulation standards and reduce gas emissions and pollution. The system has been deployed in the city of Glasgow on a fleet of vans.


CENSIS is working with the University of Strathclyde on the project, called ‘Sensing the City’, which aims to monitor key air parameters in different areas in real time from a city in a dynamic way.


The low-cost system has been built with the Libelium Waspmote sensor platform and can be deployed flexibly and rapidly in mobile configurations to complement static stations providing more capillarity to smart cities projects.


Countries throughout the world have a need, and in many cases a legal obligation, to ensure air quality is meeting specific standards. Policies aim to reduce exposure to air pollution, by reducing emissions and setting limits and targets for the Air Quality Index.


Public authorities in cities have deployed static stations to monitor air quality data for a set of pollutants with specific, and high cost, sensing technologies. These stations provide highly accurate data but their cost limits the quantity of deployments, leaving large gaps in coverage.


“Our initial requirement was for sensor nodes with a variety of configuration options. From an evolution point of view, we now have the potential to add new sensor nodes or to change sensor nodes”, said Stuart Simpson, CENSIS senior engineer.


The sensor node consists of a box with the Waspmote Plug & Sense! Smart Environment PRO inside and also a number of different sensors to measure dust, CO, temperature, humidity, pressure, NO, NO2 and O3.


All the information monitored by the platform is sent to the sensor hub, which is located in the vehicle glove box, through 802.15.4. It is composed by Raspberry Pi2, a GPS Antenna (to allow the tracking) and Zigbee. The information gathered is sent to the cloud via 3G and visualised in CitySense, based on the Microsoft Azure IoT platform.


CitySense is a web-based user interface that allows data visualisation, interaction with the cloud services and can embed data processing and analytic outputs. The decision support system allows the creation of spatial and temporal high resolution air quality maps.


The project is currently in phase one and will eventually be used to test a wider range of cities. The platform will also be extended to other smart city applications in addition to air quality such as road conditions monitoring, traffic management or energy conservation of buildings via thermal imaging.


The ultimate aim is to develop a system which provides a whole solution for public authorities.


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IoT extends its reach across Scotland with four new networks

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