Air Monitoring

Pollution-sensing kites to fly over Beijing

Jul 24 2012 Comments 0

Pollution-sensing kites are to fly over Beijing in an attempt to map and monitor air quality in the heavily polluted city.

A community-driven art and science project has come up with a project named Float, which will look to engage people in Beijing neighbourhoods into building kites with Arduino pollution-sensing modules and LED lights attached.

The kites will be used as an ingenious air monitoring device, changing to green, yellow or red depending on the level of pollution. They will track pollutants such as volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide and particulate matter.

Urban air pollution has become a big and notorious problem in Beijing, with five million cars and fumes from factories resulting in high levels of particulate matter. This can sometimes get as high as 500 parts per million, which is 20 times higher than World Health Organization guidelines, according to the US Embassy's Beijing Air Quality Monitor.

The Float project aims to generate more awareness on the issue, as well as providing reliable data that can be used for data control. It was designed by students Xiaowei Wang from Harvard's Graduate School of Design and Deren Guler from Carnegie Mellon, but could involve many people from across the city.

Unfortunately, the project relies entirely on public funding, and after raising $44,559 (£2,937) in the first round of fundraising, it is looking to raise more money to fund the project.

On its fundraising page, it says: "Due to light and air pollution, it is extremely difficult to see stars in the Beijing night sky. These kites will appear not only as indicators of urban air pollution, but also a strong visual and sensory experience. As our project is public art, it also brings together people from all walks of life – from old kite masters in Beijing, to young environmentalists, to participate and make the final public art piece together."

Posted by Lauren Steadman

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