AIR: Area's Immediate Reading

via worldchanging

AIR: Area’s Immediate Reading:

0airairair.jpg At Conflux yesterday, Brooke Singer presented Preemptive Media‘s latest work: AIR [Area’s Immediate Reading].

AIR is a portable air monitoring device that explores urban environments for pollution and fossil fuel burning hotspots. I first thought that the devices were a bit bulky, but Brooke Singer explained to me that air has to circulate inside it so the openings have to be quite wide. Besides, the size and shape of the device makes it look like a viewmaster. AIR is light enough to be carried easily at hip level or around the neck and taken around for people or “carriers” to see in real-time the pollutant levels in their neighborhood, as well as measurements from the other AIR devices in the network.

The devices are equipped with a sensor that contains a gas sensing chip that detects carbon monoxide, and another chip that spots nitrogen oxides. An on-board GPS unit and digital compass, combined with a database of known pollution sources — such as power plants and heavy industries — allow carriers to see their distance from polluters and other AIR devices.

In addition, the devices regularly transmit data to a central database allowing for real-time data visualization online. “While AIR is designed to be a tool for individuals and groups to self identify pollution sources, it also serves as a platform to discuss energy politics and their impact on environment, health and social groups in specific regions.”

(Posted by Regine Debatty in The Tech Bloom – Collaborative and Emergent Technologies at 12:58 PM)

Why do I blog this? My hunch is that DIY style eco-monitoring/sensing and the visualization of lots and lots of the results of such things may yield the kind of on-the-ground awareness from a large public and, as a consequence, help mitigate complete ecosystem failure. What I believe is needed is a system of low-cost monitoring devices, similar to what Brooke, Beatriz and Jamie have created, and an open standards way for people to share the data publicly and widely.

Technorati Tags: