Air Quality Sensors

Air Quality Sensors

What:

KC Digital Drive, working with a group of community partners, is putting up an array of sensors across Kansas City that will be used to measure air quality microclimates and detect pollution sources.  Through a partnership with US Ignite and funded by a National Science Foundation grant, KC Digital Drive received 50 air quality sensors that measure temperature, humidity, and particles (PM 2.5).  As a citizen science project, residents in the targeted area will be able to participate by having a sensor on their property. A visualization map of the data received from the sensors will be available to the public.  

Why:

Pollution exceeds WHO guidelines for 92% of the world population, resulting in 6.5 million deaths and $21B in health-care costs.  The EPA produces maps based on very limited high-quality measurements.  While very useful, these maps fail to capture local dynamics.  By using an array of low-quality sensors placed in close proximity to each other, we can produce higher-resolution pollution estimates, down to the neighborhood scale. This effort took on added significance in 2020 as recent studies have shown that higher air pollution is strongly correlated to more COVID-19 deaths. A focus on reducing air pollution in areas of high COVID-19 transmission may well help reduce the infection rate in addition to improving overall air quality.

Where:
Boundaries:

  • North:  Front Street
  • South: 85th Street
  • West:  Main Street
  • East:  71 Highway

This area is approximately 18 square miles and primarily encompasses (~90%) the zip codes of 64106, 64108, 64109, 64110, and 64131.  A small section on the west boundary includes part of 64111, 64112, 64113 and 64114 and a smaller section of the east boundary includes part of 64127, 64128, 64130 and 64132.  The primary neighborhoods are Beacon Hill, Ivanhoe, Hyde Park, Manhiem, 47/63, and Marlbourough.

With 50 sensors, there would be a density of approximately 3 sensors per square mile. One sensor would be co-located near the Troost EPA Sensor at 4th and Troost.

Installation:

  • Majority of sensors will be placed on residential structures.  Some small businesses and public spaces could be used.  
  • Sensors should be placed above breathing level, at a height of 6 to 20 feet. 
  • A power source is required, but uses very limited electricity(1.5 Watts). 
  • A good Wi-Fi connection is required, limited data will be used.  Homeowners will set up the WiFi connection (instructions provided), we will have no access to their Wifi.  To set up the WiFi homeowners will have to have a smart phone and download the Tetrad Connect App.  The app will locate (through bluetooth) the sensor and available WiFi networks.  The homeowner will choose their network and enter the password.  
  • The sensors need to be placed outdoor in a sheltered location where they are not directly rained or snowed on.  A protective covering, one that still allows air to flow freely around the sensor, could be used.  
  • The sensors do not weigh much (4 oz), so they can be easily installed with screws, adhesive tape or hung.  

Data:

Data from the sensors will be stored in a Google studio.  We will be able to check on the status of the sensors and download data daily.  Initially, the data will be uncorrected, but we will eventually have the ability to select an appropriate correction factor. The public will have access to a visualization map with the data.  

Possible data sets to compare:

  • Existing air quality data — what do we learn that is additive, different, or misleading?
  • Covid admissions data some geography and date time stamp
  • Survey data that we collect from residents about concerns/actions related to air quality
  • 311 Air Quality Data
  • Hospital visits – pediatric and adult
  • KU Atmospheric Data
  • Kansas City Life Expectancy Data [LifeX – 64126, 64127, 64128, 64129, 64130, 64132]

Partners:

KC Digital Drive has brought together a group of local experts on air quality issues.  The group includes members of the following organizations:

  • Mid America Regional Council (MARC)
  • Children’s Mercy Hospital
  • University of Missouri – Kansas City
  • Kansas University
  • City of Kansas City, MO
  • Unified Government of Wyandotte County
  • Clean Air Now

If you would like more information on this project or would like to host a sensor, click here to sign up.

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