Researchers seek to use 5G for monitoring air quality

Researchers from Helsinki University and Nokia Bell Labs are developing a technology which uses 5G for precise real-time monitoring of air quality.

The project is called MegaSense and it uses 5G infastructure in tandem with data analytics, new calibration methods, and machine learning to achieve its goal of addressing the global challenge in pollution modelling.

Air pollution is on the increase alongside the growth in the human population. By 2030, it’s estimated the global population of major cities with 10 million or more inhabitants will swell from 3.2 billion to close to 5 billion.

Back in 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its estimation that — in 2012 alone — around seven million people died as a result of air pollution exposure. This represents one in eight of total global deaths.

Dr Maria Neira, Director of WHO’s Department for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, says:

“The risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought or understood, particularly for heart disease and strokes.

Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution; the evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe.”

MegaSense aims to create a global monitoring system that’s able to provide the exact levels and composition of pollutants in the air. This will be achieved using a dense network of air quality sensors which covers an urban area to detect air polluters and develop a real-time overview of air quality.

Dr Carlos Dora, WHO Coordinator for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. says:

“Excessive air pollution is often a by-product of unsustainable policies in sectors such as transport, energy, waste management and industry. In most cases, healthier strategies will also be more economical in the long term due to health-care cost savings as well as climate gains.

WHO and health sectors have a unique role in translating scientific evidence on air pollution into policies that can deliver impact and improvements that will save lives.”

The first pilot of the MegaSense project is being undertaken at the University of Helsinki’s Kumpula Campus. Air quality sensors at the testbed are currently being connected to Nokia’s NetLeap/NDAC network.

A second pilot is being arranged for testing in Beijing, where the measuring system will use a 5G network for its air quality monitoring.

What are your thoughts on the use of 5G for air quality monitoring? Let us know in the comments.

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