Combining Biometric, Environmental and Locational Data for Health-Related Citizen Science Applications

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Authors:
  • Jonathan Huck
  • Duncan Whyatt
  • Paul Coulton
  • Brian Davison
  • Adrian Gradinar


This work investigates the potential of combining the outputs of multiple low-cost sensor technologies for the direct measurement of spatio-temporal variations in phenomena that exist at the interface between our bodies and the environment. The example used herein is the measurement of personal exposure to traffic pollution, which may be considered as a function of the concentration of pollutants in the air, and the frequency and volume of that air which enters our lungs. The sensor-based approach described in this paper removes the ‘traditional’ requirements to either model or interpolate pollution levels, or to make assumptions about the physiology of an individual. Rather, a wholly empirical analysis into pollution exposure is possible, based upon high-resolution spatio-temporal data drawn from sensors for NO2, nasal airflow, and location (GPS). Data are collected via a custom smartphone application and mapped to give an unprecedented insight into exposure to traffic pollution at the individual level. Whilst the quality of data from low-cost miniaturised sensors is not suitable for all applications, there certainly are many applications for which these data would be well suited, particularly those in the field of citizen science. This paper demonstrates both the potential and limitations of sensor-based approaches, and discusses the wider relevance of these technologies for the advancement of citizen science.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number114
Early online date16 Feb 2017
StatePublished - 2017