Chicago Sensor Project Will Measure Environmental Data

Sensors attached to traffic poles will not only provide precise weather forecasts, but can also be used to measure how the city’s environment is impacting infrastructure.

Poet Carl Sandburg once called Chicago the “city of the big shoulders.” Lately, it has also gained a reputation as being the city of big data. Now, the data moniker is about to get bigger. Later this summer, as many as 30 sensors will be attached to light poles in the downtown area to collect environmental data that will be able to provide precise weather and air quality information, block-by-block.

The information, minute-by-minute measurements of temperature, humidity, light, sound, barometric pressure and air quality, will be shared with researchers and the general public in real time. The pilot project, funded by a $200,000 grant from the Argonne National Laboratory, is led by the Urban Center for Computation and Data (UCCD) in collaboration with the city of Chicago.

The use of sensors to capture data that can help a city operate more effectively has become widespread and is gaining traction in the United States. Both pilots and production systems have been deployed to help some cities better manage traffic, energy use and water consumption. But Chicago is installing sensors as part of a broad research effort, starting with environmental data. … (Read more)