Portable Monitor Sends Tailored Air Pollution Updates To Phones

Portable Monitor Sends Tailored Air Pollution Updates To Phones

CitiSense is a system that lets you check air quality conditions in the palm of your hand.

Ryan Gerhardt
  • 21 december 2012

Developed by computer scientists at the University of California, San Diego, CitiSense may soon allow you to receive real-time air pollution data for your location on your smart phone.

CitiSense is a portable, box-like sensor that can be deployed to provide local air quality information to everyone within range of the sensor, not just those carrying it. The device provides feedback on things like ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide levels – the most common pollutants present in vehicle exhaust.


The sensor can relay information to your phone using the EPA’s air quality ratings, from green (good) to purple (unsafe), allowing people to gauge conditions for their daily activities. This information could be especially helpful for people suffering chronic conditions like asthma, or where air conditions have an increased affect on physical exertion such as for runners and those exercising.


Researchers at UC San Diego believe this system could be implemented to provide a much more thorough data collection system on urban air pollution than the EPA currently provides. The sensors currently cost around $1,000 per unit to make, but much of the technology and computer software is already developed leading to reduced costs down the line.

Additionally, the data collected can be relayed to home computers and others, allowing for a better understanding of urban pollution patterns, which tend to concentrate along major transportation routes rather than evenly dissipate. The project aims to make the ‘invisible visible,’ and hopefully everyone a little safer from pollution.

Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego

Images by Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego


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