Around 7 million premature deaths globally are caused by air pollution every year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). A recent study by Harvard University has even linked air pollution to COVID-19 mortality in the US.
Started in 2018, the open-seneca initiative has deployed pilot citizen science networks of low-cost air quality (AQ) sensors in cities in the UK (Cambridge), Argentina (Buenos Aires and Mendoza), Kenya (Nairobi), and Brazil (Belo Horizonte). AQ is usually monitored using large and expensive reference stations, which only provide data from one fixed location that is not always representative for an entire city nor for the experience of individuals moving around.
As more low-cost AQ sensors have become available, open-seneca deployed networks for AQ monitoring in urban environments, supplementing existing official monitoring stations, filling spatial and temporal gaps, and uploading data to global platforms. The team has in-depth experience in the design of open-source, mobile, low-cost AQ monitors and capacity building in partner cities, the education and engagement of citizens, and calibration, analysis, and visualisation of the data collected to aid with decision making.
open-seneca currently uses a low-cost development board called the “Black Pill” that connects to an array of sensors which enable the citizen-science programs.
The Black Pill uses an STM32, a 32-bit microcontroller that combines high performance, real-time capabilities, DSP, low-power operation and connectivity.
The STM32 is based on Arm Cortex-M3 technology, which allows the AQ sensors to be open source, simple to build and versatile for any setting.
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