The islands of Hawai’i are a literal hotbed of volcanic activity. Those spectacular volcanic eruptions draw in tourists, but they’re also dangerous. The lava flows themselves are a concern, but hazardous gas emissions present a potentially lethal threat in their own right. That’s why scientists from MIT and Hawai’i’s Kohala Center have turned to the Particle Electron to monitor the local air quality.
Air quality monitoring stations are, of course, already in use throughout the United States. But, the stations setup by the EPA cost about $100,000 each, and their collected data isn’t readily available to the public. By using the affordable Particle Electron cellular IoT board, along with commercially-available sensors and solar panels, the scientists are able to create air quality monitoring stations for just $1,000. The only real recurring cost for each station is the cellular service.
In addition to driving costs down, these stations are small enough to be easily deployed throughout a region in order to provide highly localized measurements. That data can then be made readily accessible to the general public, and will help residents and tourists know when the air is safe. Outside of the unique environment in Hawai’i, the same stations can be used in any area where air quality is a potential issue. For example, they can be deployed in a heavily-polluted city like New Delhi, India to improve public safety.