Chicago Using IoT Devices to Fight Air Pollution

Air pollution is a significant concern in big cities like Chicago. In 2018, the city was ranked as the 22nd most polluted city in the county. Large conurbations like the city produce massive amounts of air pollution that affect not only the residents of the town but also the rest of the world. Global warming concerns combined with a need to regulate the number of pollutants put into the air by residents has spurred the local authorities to investigate the potential use of IoT devices to control air pollution within the city.

IoT devices can be used in air quality monitoring, allowing the sampling of air in different areas of the city, which can then be used to pinpoint areas where air pollution is most prevalent. Sensors located on tiny autonomous devices spread around the city are used to monitor carbon oxides, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter. Decibel levels are also used to determine areas of the city with high levels of noise pollution. The idea is to distribute these IoT devices around the city to build up a picture of the air quality and spread of noise over time, allowing officials to concentrate better their efforts to control pollution.

Real-Time Data Collection

The University of Chicago, in partnership with Argonne National Laboratory with help from the City of Chicago, embarked on creating a sophisticated data map of the city using 200 nodes spread around different areas of the urban center. The real-time data can be streamed live by engineers, data scientists, and policymakers to enable them to understand the situation in the city better currently before they make decisions.

Public infrastructural efforts like these set an excellent example for both developed and developing cities. With more current information, all stakeholders within an urban region can use the existing data at hand to better adapt their decisions. Because the town itself supports this effort, the data is provided free of charge as a public service. The collected information enables both private and public companies to understand the relevant impacts on the system and give them an insight towards improving the existing conditions.

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