La Montre Verte: people-based environment monitoring

La Montre Verte: people-based environment monitoring
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A wrist-bound sensor that gathers information about pollution as the wearer walks about town was a surprise hit with visitors at a conservation festival in Amsterdam last month. La Montre Verte (The Green Watch) follows the example of similar projects in London, New York and San Francisco and puts ozone and noise pollution detection in, or rather on, the hands of citizens.

La Montre Verte is the result of a collaboration between a number of companies in France (such as telecom giants SFR, the CITU laboratory in Paris, Xilabs and Altran) under the leadership of the Foundation internet nouvelle génération (Fing). The project aims to multiply the number of environmental sensors in an urban area by at least a thousand by encouraging the people who live there to take part.

As well as a timepiece, each device contains a GPS chip, a Bluetooth chip and sensors for noise and ozone. As the wearer goes about his daily routine the sensors periodically sample the surroundings for signs of pollution. The readings are then sent via Bluetooth to a mobile phone supplied by SFR which in turn sends the data to a central database, the CityPulse portal (either as the data is gathered or at a preset time - just like synchronizing an iPod).

The user can see real-time results of the readings on the screen of the mobile phone in the form of an eye where the color of the pupil varies according to the amount of ozone present in the air and the iris indicates the level of noise. The time - and geolocation - stamped sensor readings are stored on the CityPulse portal and analyzed. Software has been developed to overlay the readings on a top-down street map.

Sensor readings from a recent beta test in Paris have been integrated into the software and can be seen on the project website. A total of 137,144 readings were taken by residents in the 2nd District of Paris and the sensors recorded an average ozone level of 116 parts per billion (ppb) and an average noise level of 65dB over a four hour test period.

A number of beta tests have taken place all over Paris during the Summer months and more recently at the Amsterdam Picnic event. All of the results are to be made openly available and can be used to form hot spot location maps or documents for discussion and debate.

It is hoped that involving citizens in pollution data gathering may lead to open debate, a sense of citizen involvement and environmental improvement. The project plans to start distributing around 200 devices to inhabitants in participating cities in the coming months. More information is available on the project website.

Watch the following video overview of the project:

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