Air quality data are generally collected through fixed urban weather stations, which generally offer a low spatial resolution coverage. Aiming for the acquisition of air quality dynamics and gradients of the contaminant concentrations across the city at higher spatio-temporal resolutions, we have deployed autonomous air quality sensing kits onto mobile platforms such as private vehicles or public transportation.
The main advantage of the proposed sensing kit resides in its flexibility to be easily coupled to mobile vehicles. An enclosure has been purposely designed to protect the electronic circuit from the incoming rain water while enabling sufficient air exchanges in the sensing chamber. Furthermore readily available and cheap sensors have been used to enable the scalability of the project. Sensors for carbon monoxide, ozone, particulate matter, carbon dioxide, temperature and humidity sensors have been included. The sensing kit is also equipped with a cellular antenna and a GPS shield to enable real-time and geo-localized data acquisition. The kit is powered by a Photovoltaic cell, which is connected to a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery to enhance its flexibility to be coupled to diverse mobile platforms.
The second part of the research has focused on the exploration of immersive urban environmental data visualization strategies. While the study of urban sensing tools has been a consistent focus of research within the environmental, earth and citizen science communities, little attention has been placed on the development of immersive visualization techniques and methods for an interactive exploration of urban environmental data. Environmental data are generally visualized as tabular data or 2D plots that often rely on 2D GIS tools, which fail to enable an experiential visualization of the microclimatic data. 3D immersive environmental visualization techniques on the other hand can potentially enable a user-centered interactive analysis and rationalization of the available urban environmental data in relation to further urban considerations. With this ambition, we have developed two mobile apps that apply Augmented Reality (AR) visualizations to data acquired from urban Geographic Information System (GIS), online sensing network databases, and data acquired from our mobile urban sensing technologies implementations. The two apps are:
i) An AR mobile app that has been designed for on-site air quality visualization. The user is aided by the app to navigate the city informed by environmental parameters such as temperature, humidity or AQI. A first-person view and the map view are enabled. In the first-person view, locational services of the user’s mobile device are accessed, and the geotagged environmental data is overlaid on the camera view as graphic filters. The app also enables a map view of the environmental data through accessing geolocation and using Google Map API services over which environmental gradients are overlaid.
ii) A second AR app that has been designed for off-site immersive environmental visualization. Through a marker based AR visualization, the user of the app can spatially and 3-dimensionally visualize urban environmental data against further urban parameters such as urban green areas, or building densities. The app enables a historical view of the urban environmental data as well as the real time view. Such visualization enables urban parameters such as streets and buildings, as well as their surface characteristics to be studied against urban environmental data.
The proposed mobile urban sensing technologies and immersive urban environmental visualization strategies are currently being deployed in a pilot project in Seoul, South Korea. Air quality sensing kits are being installed in the local bus lines, and the AR apps are being tested as part of the Seoul Architecture and Urbanism Biennale, which opens on the 1st of September 2017.