If you want to get really grossed out by traffic pollution, make emissions visible. That's what a new project is doing in the UK. Using cheap wireless sensors, air pollution levels can be monitored to assess traffic issues, and congestion on the roads and in your lungs cleared up. The project is called MESSAGE (Mobile Environmental Sensing Systems Across Grid Environments) and it is a pilot program that includes installing a sensor networkin Gateshead, Tyne & Wear to map out pollution hotspots.
The Gateshead network consists of around 50 separate wireless sensors housed in small metal boxes attached to railings and lamp posts alongside major roads.
The data they collect on carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, other pollutant levels, temperature, humidity and noise levels, as well as a count of vehicle passages, is sent to a central computer server and refreshed every minute, enabling constantly updated, internet-accessible ‘pollution maps’ of the area to be compiled.
The pollution map can then be accessed by anyone, helping citizens choose their travel routes, and helping government officials figure out pollution solutions, such as giving transport system operators the ability to quickly and effectively disperse traffic. Hopes for the project include cutting down on health problems related to air quality, as well as combating climate change.
Anything to reduce the amount of time cars spend on the road polluting while not actually getting anywhere is probably a good thing. And I'm sure citizens will appreciate skipping a congestion charge.
Via Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
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