Project Eclipse: a low-cost, hyperlocal environmental sensing platform for cities
Pollution is something most urban residents experience regularly, but because it’s largely unseen and we lack sensors to help inform us it has become something of a “silent killer”. Poor air quality for instance, is 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, Urban Innovation presents a full stack -from sensors to analytics-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, starting with air quality.
Custom hardware: Air Quality (Pro II)
Eclipse sensors are custom designed, from the electrical engineering, firmware to the enclosure, and calibrated in our hardware lab at Microsoft Research in Redmond. The air quality sensors measure CO, NO2, SO2, and O3, as well as PM 1, PM 2.5, and PM 10, along with temperature, humidity and pressure. Data is uploaded using cellular LTE-M technology directly to an Azure data stack. The devices take sensor readings at 60 second and 15 minute intervals, powered by solar the devices run perpetually.
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 sensors to be built are:
- Heat Index
- Water Quality
- RF-Low Powered Sensing
Project Eclipse is rolling out in partner cities including Chicago, Boston, Miami, and Kenmore. In Boston, for instance, Project Eclipse partnered 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.