Friday, February 19, 2016

Open Source Based Monitoring of Urban Areas

Robert Schima1, Tobias Goblirsch2, Christoph Salbach3, Bogdan Francyk2, Jan Bumberger1 and Peter Dietrich1
1 UFZ – Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Department Monitoring and Exploration Technologies,
2 University of Leipzig, Faculty of Economics and Management, Information Systems Institute,

3UFZ - Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Department of Computational Landscape Ecology, Leipzig, Germany,


The impact of global change, urbanization and complex interactions between humans and the environment show different effects on different scales. However, the desire to obtain a better understanding of ecosystems and process dynamics in nature accentuates the need for observing these processes in higher temporal and spatial resolutions. Especially with regard to the process dynamics and heterogeneity of urban areas, a comprehensive monitoring of these effects remains to be a challenging issue in the field of environmental research.

Mobile Sensor Integration Platform

Open source based electronics and cost-effective sensors are offering a promising approach to explore new possibilities of mobile data acquisition and innovative strategies and thereby support a comprehensive ad-hoc monitoring and the capturing of environmental processes close to real time. Accordingly, our project aims the development of new strategies for mobile data acquisition and real-time processing of user-specific environmental data, based on a holistic and integrated process. To this end, the concept of our monitoring system covers the data collection, data processing and data integration as well as the data provision within one infrastructure. This ensures a consistent data stream and a rapid data processing. However, the overarching goal is the provision of an integrated service instead of lengthy and arduous data acquisition by hand. Therefore, the system also serves as a data acquisition assistant and gives guidance during the measurements.

Figure 1: Basic idea of an holistic monitoring of urban areas leading into an interactive service oriented data store of gathered information.

Hands-on Approach

In technical terms, our monitoring system consists of mobile sensor devices, which can be controlled and managed by a smart phone app (Android). At the moment, the system is able to acquire temperature and humidity in space (GPS) and time (real-time clock) as a built in function. In addition, larger system functionality can be accomplished by adding further sensors for the detection of e.g. fine dust, methane or dissolved organic compounds. From the IT point of view, the system includes a smart phone app for initial data processing, data provision and data visualization. Furthermore, the smart phone app provides an interface to the powerful engine of myObservatory. Here, the user has full access to all the data managing and analysis tools provided by myObservatory. Environmental monitoring and data evaluation have never been more exiting. Feel free to contact us for more information or additional notes.

Figure 2: The whole system is constructed in a modular way. Little adjustments can be done easily and even under field conditions.

Initial Field Experiments

In September 2015, an initial city monitoring based on the mobile monitoring platform was performed by five independently driving cyclists through the city center of Leipzig (Germany). 

Figure 3: The figure shows the prototype of the sensor integration platform fixed to a bike rack, ready for an ad-hoc urban monitoring.

As a result we were able to instantly show a heat and humidity map of the inner city center as well as an exposure map for each cyclist. This emphasizes the feasibility and high potential of open source based monitoring approaches for future investigation in the field of urban area monitoring, environmental research, citizen science or the validation of remote sensing data. Below you can see an example of the data gathered by the mobile sensor integration platform presented and analyzed by using the tools of myObservatory. Thanks to myObservatory, environmental data acquisition and evaluation - easy as pie.

Figure 4: Urban Monitoring by bike. Sampling points of temperature and humidity measurement based on the mobile sensor integration platform.

Figure 5: Urban Monitoring by bike. Evaluation of urban heat conditions based on the mobile sensor integration platform.

To sum-up:

Figure 6: Overview of the mobile open source based sensor platform.

1 comment:

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