Analytics & Applications


New technologies for improved air pollution monitoring

Prof. Karl Aberer ~ Project Website

The OpenSense project addresses key research challenges in the information and communication systems domain that are related to community-based sensing using wireless sensor network technology in the context of air pollution monitoring. These challenges include:

  1. Reducing noise and data volume of heterogeneous sensor data by exploiting redundancies derivedfrom complex environmental processes. Previous approaches only treated very regular sensor configurations and simple processes.
  2. Performing real-time data gathering with heterogeneous and mobile sensors and intermittentconnectivity, in particular in urban environments.
  3. Compiling numerical models of complex spatial processes into qualitative approximations that canbe used for efficient signal processing and sensor interpretation.
  4. Sharing measurement and model data through an open community platform in a trusted and fairenvironment, providing security against manipulation and faulty data.

Solutions to these problems affect typically all layers of an information and communication system architecture, with interdependencies and synergies among the different layers. For that reason, the multi-disciplinary research team consists of experts from areas as broad as signal processing, networking, robotics, data management and qualitative reasoning. Significant new insights are expected from  this cross-fertilization: interpreting data through environmental models allows to correct for sensing deficiencies, and interpreting real-world data in models on this scale has not been previously attempted. In order to verify the appropriateness of the technical solution and demonstrate the benefit of the approach to users, demonstration scenarios will be constructed in collaboration with an expert group from the application domains.

The project will result in open technology that diverse sensors to be integrated, including mobile sensors, into a single environmental model. The information processing techniques we develop will provide important insights to enable other Nano-Tera application domains dealing with monitoring complex events.

Air pollution is still a serious environmental problem in Switzerland, despite many efforts to reduce emissions, and it is becoming an increasingly important environmental issue in large areas of the world due the increasing urbanization across the globe. The technology developed in this project will assist dealing with these problems and will thus create significant opportunities for industrial exploitation.