Project Eclipse: a low-cost, accurate air quality sensing platform for cities
Poor air quality is something most urban residents experience regularly, but because it’s largely invisible and we lack sensors to help inform us it has become something of a “silent killer”. Linked to a number of serious health ailments, including heart and lung disease, as well as issues like asthma aggravation, the World Health Organization estimates that 91% of the world’s population live in places where air quality exceeds guideline limits. With Project Eclipse, the Urban Innovation Initiative presents a full stack -from sensors to analytics- air quality sensing platform for cities. The goal is a radical increase (10x – 100x) in the geographic granularity of environmental sensing in cities in support of a variety of public health scenarios.
Project Eclipse devices are custom designed, from the electrical engineering to the enclosure, and calibrated in our hardware lab at Microsoft Research in Redmond, WA. The sensors measure CO, NO2, SO2, and O3, as well as PM 1, PM 2.5, and PM 10, along with temperature and humidity. Data is transmitted via LTE-M direct to an Azure data stack. When taking hourly readings, each device should last about nine months on a single battery.
Full Azure Data Stack
Project Eclipse utilizes Azure to ingest, process, store, analyze, and visualize air quality data. Final raw data are available in JSON format via simple REST API, and the Urban Innovation team has developed custom R analytics, Power BI, and web visualizations to help customers monitor and get insight from the data.
Next Generation Sensors
The Urban Innovation team continues to work toward its goal of low cost, low-to-no power environmental sensors. Additional techniques under development include:
- Computer vision analytics for camera-based sensors
- Analogue colorimetric ink-based chemical sensors
- Hybrid electro-molecular sensors
Project Eclipse is rolling out in partner cities. In Boston, for instance, Project Eclipse is partnering with the Beta Blocks program that is exploring the public value of technology in communities. In Miami, researchers on the Urban Innovation Initiative are working with local government and civic tech community members to identify pilot projects around low income housing and hyperlocal weather and pollution monitoring.
Microsoft Research is looking to expand its partnership program to deploy the Project Eclipse sensing platform in cities. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how to participate.