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Virtual Technologies – BuggyAir

Virtual Technologies - BuggyAir

Location: Central London, Guildford and Gerrards Cross.

BuggyAir developed a portable air quality sensor for parents/carers to gather real-time information on their children’s personal pollution exposure. The sensor fits to a buggy and measures ground-level air pollution along a route, which can then be monitored by parents online. The data generated not only allows parents to make more informed decisions about their routes around the city, but also provides government and planners with evidence for long term behavioural and legislative change.

We partnered with IOTA, Superflux and ScienceScope for this experiment.

In many of our cities, children represent the largest subgroup of the population susceptible to the effects of ground level air pollution caused by NO2 (nitrogen dioxide), PM (particulate matter) and others. The long-term health implications of exposure to these pollutants include expanded lungs, asthma and significant deterioration in wellbeing. Whilst a lot of work is being done to measure and take action in relation to air pollution, very little is being done for this specific demographic.

BuggyAir addressed this challenge by giving parents and public bodies access to better data on the pollutants children are being exposed to. Their air quality and GPS tracking sensor fits to a child’s buggy/pram and measures the amount of NO2, CO and PM2.5 along a route, whilst the GPS records the precise location of each data point. The sensor is supported by the London Datastore, an API and an online visualisation facility, which show parents/carers their children’s exposure to pollution by route stage and in comparison to other routes.

In earlier GPS-based trials of the sensor, volunteers had highlighted various elements of the user experience that could be improved. They didn’t like the complications of using a phone for data transmission or the need to frequently charge the sensor box. LoRa gave the team the opportunity to create a longer battery life for their sensor box and a simpler and more convenient experience for the user.

  • LoRa proved to be suitable for BuggyAir’s application wherever coverage was in place.
  • The availability of gateways near the team’s places of work was greatly beneficial to their experiment.
  • With the help of a module, provided by Microchip, the team were able to demonstrate a dual-mode (GPS and LoRa) solution.
  • Although the location of gateways in London were useful, they did not cover the areas where volunteers were able to test the sensor.
  • The team were not able to fully understand responses from LoRa modules – especially on the edge of coverage areas.
  • A compressed timescale has both advantages and disadvantages.

For more information, please contact buggyair@virtual-techno.com.

Learn about the other Things Connected experiments.

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