Helsinki tests global environmental monitoring system technology

Helsinki tests global environmental monitoring system technology
© Timo Newton-Syms

The MegaSense project is aiming to create a global environmental monitoring system through the use of 5G technology.

The global environmental monitoring system will gather data on air quality and the environment, and the technology which will facilitate this is currently being tested in Helsinki, Finland, by the project’s co-ordinators, the University of Helsinki and Nokia Bell Labs.

The technology involves the installation of a dense network of air quality sensors in urban areas. These sensors gather masses of data which can then be combined processed through Helsinki’s 5G network, in order to create a real-time map of air quality throughout the city and to detect air polluters.

How does MegaSense work?

The project utilises an existing air pollution map and prediction models, taking into account wind direction and the location of air quality sensors. This calibrated data can be used for a variety of applications in almost real time.

Sensors for the first pilot of the MegaSense project have been installed at the University of Helsinki’s Kumpula Campus, and there are plans for a second phase to take place in Beijing, China. The current phase uses supplementary data from stations measuring earth surfaces and atmosphere relations in both Helsinki and Beijing.

What impact will the project have?

Professor Sasu Tarkoma, head of the department of computer science at the University of Helsinki, said that the creation of a global environmental monitoring system that can provide exact data on air quality and harmful substances in the air could be revolutionary for reducing air pollution.

He said: “Finland has top-notch experts both in atmospheric and data sciences and in 5G development. Through the interdisciplinary MegaSense cooperation project, we can significantly improve air quality monitoring, which in turn will enable increasingly precise data for decision-making.”

The technology has a number of potential applications and Tarkoma said that his aim was to make air quality data more accessible. The real-time updates that the project facilitates could offer new business opportunities, and the university is working on a mobile application which would allow users to access the data.

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