MegaSense helps avoid air pol­lu­tion

A network of sensors that measure air quality is being built in Helsinki, which can be used as the basis for a range of health-promoting applications to help avoid air pollution.

The fine particles you breathe in affect your health, and they are not easy to avoid. The more accurate and real-time the data collected on air quality, the smarter the applications that can be designed to promote residents’ health and wellbeing as well as a clean environment.

The University of Helsinki’s MegaSense programme aims to build a global observation system which produces uniform, accurate and real-time data on harmful substances found in the air. The programme strives to remove any bottlenecks associated with measurement with the help of a comprehensive measuring station network and artificial intelligence.

Measuring and analysing air quality and utilising the data are complicated activities that are prone to errors, and the currently available measuring techniques do not yet produce very accurate data.

Expensive measuring stations cannot be installed very densely, while the problem with inexpensive air quality sensors is that they are unable to produce data that is as accurate as that produced by the more expensive devices.

“Combining the two opens up entirely new possibilities”, says Professor Sasu Tarkoma from the Department of Computer Science, University of Helsinki. Tarkoma heads the MegaSense programme.

Ultimately, air quality analyses and related knowledge are based on an extensive observation dataset collected through the Stations Measuring Earth Surfaces and Atmosphere Relations (SMEAR) measuring network.

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