November 18, 2020 - Air Pollution has been the greatest challenge facing our world today. Though great progress has been made in achieving better air quality, places with limited resources find pollution-related deaths keep increasing. However, by applying affordable technology, it could help easing out the crisis in these places.
The National Science Foundation awarded partner grants to institutions like Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, and Washington University- St. Louis to create an international network of low-cost sensors to track and fight air pollution. Albert Presto, an associate research professor of mechanical engineering, and Paulina Jaramillo, a professor of engineering and public policy and co-director of Green Design Institute are part of CMU’s team on the research for this project.
Sensors do not necessarily have to cost high for them to be effective. These low-cost sensors will provide publicly available high-quality data about air pollution, which allows many communities to gain access to the information about the air quality around them. One of the ways air pollution is diminished is by the good management of a policy. However, without high quality real-time data, policy does not have a lot to rely and go off of.
“Low-cost sensors are being deployed all over the world,” the authors wrote. “They have the potential to revolutionize clean air solutions and spur regulatory action, especially in lower- and middle-income countries.”
In Pittsburgh, Presto has already deployed many of these sensor technologies. The way he does it is that he measures pollution level in various locations across the city to monitor the fluctuation in pollution levels. He then finds the source of the pollution in each area, such as air pollution is higher near major roads, indicating increased automobile emissions.
Until now, there is no exact scientific standard regarding low-cost sensors and the datas being collected. CMU’s team proposed The Clean Air Monitoring and Solution Network (CAMS-Net) which is an international interdisciplinary team that will include 32 teams from North America, Europe, Africa, and India. The team hopes researchers all over the world would come together and revolutionize the way air pollution data is collected and analyzed for the better air quality in our world.
The project was granted funding in August 2020 to begin in January 2021. Partner grants have been awarded to Daniel Westervelt, V. Faye McNeill, Arlene Fiore, and Kiros Berhane from Columbia and Randall Martin and Pratim Biswas from Washington University- St. Louis.
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