Michael wins the UoN’s International Changemaker of the Year award.

CIDI’s Smart and Connected Systems (SCS) research theme leader Dr Michael Opoku Agyeman wins the International Changemaker of the year award.

The award was in recognition of the significant impact made towards alleviating the social issues in developing countries through the SmartWorld project http://www.computing.northampton.ac.uk/~michael/SmartWorld/index.html.

Michael is the founder of the SmartWorld initiative, an international collaborative project that uses technology, particularly Internet-of-Things (IoT), to provide solutions to the potential crisis in developing countries.

Through the SmartWorld initiative, Michael has put new technology methods in place to produce a real-world practical solution to these issues in the form of projects, dissertations and research. In addition, the project has attracted externally funded international students to the University of Northampton. Michael continues to inspire students with his ambitious tenacity that highlights the multidisciplinary benefits of using computing to improve health and well-being on a global scale.

Podcast: Physical Computing, AI, IoT and Industry 4.0

Had fun talking about Physical Computing📲💻🕹, AI💻👩‍🏫, IoT📱🏘 and Industry 4.0👩‍🔧🏗🖥 with colleagues from University of Northampton. An interesting discussion of the trending technologies and Research and Innovation in this podcast.

For full discussion, listen to the podcast🎙:

DDoS Detection and Mitigation in SDN Environment

What is DDoS?
The definition and meaning of DDoS:

DDoS stands for Distributed Denial of Service. DDoS is a kind of cyberattack that make a website or a network resource unreachable. An attacker obliges thousands of devices across the internet to send an amazing amount of unwanted packets to the target> This target could be a company’s data centre or network or website. Almost any type of internet-facing connected device could be a potential DDoS resource: Internet of Things (IoT) devices, smartphones, personal computers, and powerful servers.

DDoS attacks are still a growing threat to all businesses dependent on the connectivity. There are several approaches to protect against DDoS attacks, where the most cost-efficient one is the out-of-path strategy to detect and mitigate the attacks. But how it fits SDN environments?

Out-of-path DDoS solution consists of Flowmon DDoS Defender for flow-based attack detection and traffic rerouting for a mitigation in on-premise devices or cloud scrubbing. This works well for the physical environment. However, we are witnessing of a transition to SDN / NFV virtual environments and such environments do not usually provide with out of the box DDoS detection and mitigation capabilities. So let’s have a look at DDoS attack protection in SDN environment using Open vSwitch and Floodlight SDN controller.

Open vSwitch (OVS) is known as one of the most interesting and important open source projects. In order to abstract from the physical network infrastructure, OVS is widely used in data centres to steer traffic among virtualized appliances running as virtual machines (VMs), apply access and security policies, and realize overlay networks by means of protocol tunnelling. We will show in this article, how to use OVS for protection against volumetric DDoS attacks.

We will need the following components:

  • Flowmon Collector VA or hardware appliance
  • Flowmon DDoS Defender
  • Floodlight SDN controller
  • Open vSwitch
  • We have prepared integration package which performs adding an interface to configure Open vSwitch (OVS) via Floodlight SDN controller with needed information for DDoS attack mitigation.
    Let’s dive into the details:

Firstly you need to export flows from the OVS to Flowmon collector. The figure shows a case when using a virtual collector so you can choose between flow export from the OVS or port mirroring that will drive the traffic to monitoring ports of the Flowmon collector.Principle of the Flowmon DDoS Defender + Floodlight controller + Open vSwitch (OVS) integration

Figure 1: The figure shows the principle of the Flowmon DDoS Defender + Floodlight controller + Open vSwitch (OVS) integration.

The Flowmon DDoS Defender module computes multiple adaptive baselines so when a DDoS attack comes, it is detected by exceeding the baselines. After that, the Flowmon DDoS Defender generates an attack signature which is passed to the SDN mitigation script. Upon receiving and parsing the signature by the script the DDoS Defender logs to the Floodlight controller and sends an ACL configuration via REST API in order to set up an ACL to start the mitigation. The ACL configuration is then issued by the controller to the OVS itself via OpenFlow protocol. As soon as the DDoS attack ends, all the ACL configuration caused by the DDoS Defender is again automatically removed from the OVS.





Student Testimonials on Teaching: Nominations for FAST lecturer of the Year 2019






  1. He has been of good help since I started studying. I moved from Belgium to study and since I came here with different language, Dr. Michael has helped me in all aspects of my studies and I am forever grateful. He takes his time to explain things. He even gave me personal info to message him anytime I need help which has been of great help.

  2. Very helpful in explaining things to do with the course.

  3. Outstanding level of teaching

  4. He’s a great guy

  5. Cool dude

  6. I enjoy the lectures and I like the style of teaching

  7. Great Lecturer

  8. “Michael has proven to be a very good lecturer as he has shown a lot of passion in the area which he is teaching. He is very helpful and makes a large attempt to make sure that everyone understands what he is teaching.”

  9. Good and very enthusiastic teacher

  10. He is very friendly to every single student.

  11. Shows off enthusiasm every lecture and provides plenty of examples within their own teaching. Assistance of the overall module has been pleasant. E.g. Relating the topic content to a real-life, everyday example to make it simpler to understand.

  12. Cool dude, a great lecturer

  13. I strongly believe that more than the results of its students, the success of a lecturer relies on the capability of the lecturer to arise the interest of the students in the module he teaches. If you asked me a couple of months ago, I would say that my interest in Computer Architecture is below average, but now due to the enthusiastic and passionate way of Dr. Michael in explaining this module, my interest has greatly increased. I therefore nominate him as an “Outstanding Lecturer of the Year”, due to the impact that the learning experience that I got from him had in changing “Computer Architecture” from my least favorite module to my recently favorite module.

  14. “Outstanding support and incredible attention to making the module as interesting as possible.

  15. Examples of that would be spending his own money on components to make the module interesting and engaging to every student, providing constant support with assembly and coding of the robot cars by making online tutorials and granting in-session support to anyone that needs it.”

  16. He is very good and he is trying his best with us to understand the module. He helps us even if we finished the lecture he stays with us until he make sure that we get and understand everything he give us.

  17. Consistent support in and out of the class

  18. During the first year of being at this university, I always felt as if i was falling behind and never seemed to quite click with the information taught to me during lectures. This resulted in my mind spiraling into a place of both discontent and self-doubt. The thought of dropping out 

  19. lingered in my thoughts as if a war was waging within my mind, and my will was on the losing side. However, on that fateful day. A single man emerged on the battle field and single handily repelled the army of negative emotions. That man, was Michael Opoku Agyeman. When asked how a single man can conquer an army on his lonesome, He turned, gave a slight chuckle and replied “I enjoy what I teach”. and with that he disappeared leaving behind nothing, but an Arduino RC car assembly kit and a few burnt LEDs.  Michael is honestly, the best lecturer i had the honor of  learning under. He clearly loves the subject he teaches as he always enters the classroom with enthusiasm and with the look of determination on his face to teach his students why he loves the subject. He is always friendly, easily approachable and willing to further explain a subject that leaves students puzzled. In addition to this, Micheal knows how to connect to students, always willing to have a joke whilst still retaining his professionalism during class. If  it wasn’t for his teaching style, I would have a hard time enjoying my course.

  20. Patient and outstanding for this course. He gave us feedback and help immediately and tried his best to help every students to understand the material. In addition,  the class becomes more active with his humorous teaching style. We can enjoy the free Pisa in his class.

  21. Good teaching and make the classes interesting every weeks. Made many tutorials online and in classes for students.

  22. Very nice teacher. his teaching style is very good as he will teach you everything you will need to know whilst maintaining a nice, friendly, funny personality/atmosphere. He also makes the module really easy to understand due to the way he explains it, plus he will frequently stop and ask if everyone gets what he is talking about which is nice because if people don’t understand, it gives them a chance to ask him about it and he will go back and explain it in another way that people will understand. Overall he is the best teacher at Northampton Uni hands down, no other lecturer even comes close and he really deserves the award.

  23. Just a nice lad

  24. He’s very supportive and encourages his students in all they do. He gives them hope and believes in them.

  25. “Michael is one of those teachers who makes classes not just enjoyable but he makes sure that we understand everything his extra knowledge in the subject helps us understand everything”

  26. Very supportive and make sure every student understands the lecture.

  27. He is a great teacher, his lectures are really enjoyable and fun, he makes things look so easy and understandable.

  28. I would like to nominate Prof Michael OPOKU AGYEMAN this is because he has been a great teacher through the module of computer system, he shown great passion of teaching and I really enjoy attending every class.

  29. “I would like to nominate MICHAEL because he’s a great teacher, he’s so friendly with all student and he is very helpful through teaching. I think he deserve this the award more than any others teachers. “

  30. Outstanding lecturer of the year

  31. He deserves it!

  32. Helpful and always willing to help.

  33. Outstanding assistance in lecturing and readiness to help

  34. He is a good teacher. Provides many resources on Nile and is a very enthusiastic individual with a clear passion for their subject area.

  35. Full of energy, supportive

  36. Over all good tutor, very helpful every week

  37. Good support and adviser

Book Published: Design an IoT Serious Games Based on a Wearable Device for Home Rehabilitation with Arduino and Raspberry Pi

🥳📚📖 Book published. Another milestone achieved with Ali Al-Mahmood, titled, 
🧐👩‍🎓👨‍🎓🤓 Design an IoT Serious Games Based on a Wearable Device for Home Rehabilitation with Arduino and Raspberry Pi 🧐👩‍🎓👨‍🎓🤓

ISBN: 978-620-0-29224-7

Stroke leads to intense physical disability in the human body, it causes some deficits due to the horrific events that resulted in wars and other problems in our world. Very often stroke survivors suffer from a permanent partial disability that restricts the movement of the hand, arm, and leg. We know that the rehabilitation should be at an earlier stage of the injury to recover the infected parts of the human body. The key success of the stroke recovery is the patient’s motivation, it would be a challenge to recover if the patient is not motivated and not practicing. This book, presents the design and implementation details of wearable device to help motivate stroke patients with upper and/or lower limb disabilities.


Book Published: A Sneak Peek into Arduino-Based Robot Car Projects Aimed at Disaster Management/Prevention

🥳📚📖 I am pleased to introduce my newly published Book with Igla Hoxha, titled,
A Sneak Peek into Arduino-Based Robot Car Projects
Aimed at Disaster Management/Prevention.
Well done, to all the valuable contributors to the chapters of this work: 🧐👩‍🎓👨‍🎓🤓Jonathan Kilday, Joel Roberts, Paul Munginga, Oluwadamilola Oke, Olakunle Labinjoh, Tchoungoua Nyamsi J, Dominik Cpak, Songtao Yang, Lewis Dillon, XueZhi Cao, Emmanuel Ndali Ngboko, Daniel Bucknor, Abdulla Aljaber and Maryam Ali Al-Khayyat🧐👩‍🎓👨‍🎓🤓 🥳📚💝.
ISBN: 978-613-9-84756-3

In the world of manufacturing, apart from computer systems, a new concept i.e. computer automation has arisen. This concept was originally conceived when computers started to automate things, based on the interaction with the outside world. The significant increase in the trend of automation has introduced Arduino. Having said that, Arduino is a platform that uses different inputs e.g. electronic sensors, lights, motors and other assorted gadgets, to get information from the real world and to make decisions based on that information. What Arduino builds is essentially a robot. Everyone that is interested in creating interactive environments, has the potential of doing so by using this revolutionary device. This book consists of some Arduino projects that are proposed by students. The aim of this book is to provide students with an insight of the projects that can be developed by using the Arduino platform and motivate them for further developments in the field.

2 Papers Published (Presented at IoTNAT 2019, Rome)

1- Michael Opoku Agyeman, Zainab Al-Waisi, Igla Hoxha:
Design and Implementation of an IoT-Based Energy Monitoring System for Managing Smart Homes. FMEC 2019: 253-258
2- Michael Opoku Agyeman, Ali Al-Mahmood:
Design and Implementation of a Wearable Device for Motivating Patients With Upper and/or Lower Limb Disability Via Gaming and Home Rehabilitation. FMEC 2019: 247-252

Had an amazing time with these wonderful minds at IoTNAT 2019 in Rome to share our recent contributions towards the future of Internet of Things (IoT) and to chair a session.

IoTNAT 2019: The Internet of Things (IoT) technology offers unprecedented opportunities to interconnect human beings as well as Machine-to-Machine (M2M), whereby sensors and networks allow all ‘things’ to communicate directly with each other to share vital information allowing us to have an instrumented universe where accurate data is readily available to inform optimal decision making. The IoT is about to enable a range of new capabilities and services far beyond today’s offerings. It will fundamentally change how people go about their lives. According to Gartner, the number of objects connected to the Internet is set to reach 20 billion by 2020. Cisco estimates the number will be close to 26 billion objects by 2020. Others believe the actual number will be even higher with the assumption that any object with a simple micro controller and on-off switch will be connected to the Internet in the near feature. The scale of the IoT is set to have a major economic, social and environmental impacts; the intersection of which forms the future sustainable growth.

Book Published: Design and Implementation of a Smart Health Monitoring System for Tracking Patients

🥳📚📖💝 I am pleased to introduce my newly published Book with Mirusha Jegatheeswaran on
Design and Implementation of a Smart Health Monitoring System for Tracking Patients. Well done, Mirusha for the hard work. 🥳📚📖💝.

Link: https://www.morebooks.de/…/design-an…/isbn/978-620-0-08194-0

Poor healthcare plays a huge role in the increasing death rates in LEDCs, from decrease in doctors to lack of medication and efficient medical equipment. This book presents the design end implementation of a smart health monitoring system aimed at reducing the health risks in developing countries. Specifically, reducing the number of outbursts related to diseases, and helping maintain health standards in Nainativu for the implemented system is used as a case study.

Microprocessor-Based Systems: Sample Student Demos

Security trustworthiness of Human-as-a-Sensor gathered information

As reported in my earlier posted blogs, HaaS is a concept that promises to help in the improvement of real world problems, yet one of the biggest challenges associated with it is the ability to determine the credibility of the data that is received, as the information is more often generated by unknown sources which are untrusted. HaaS has gained an substantial attention in Internet-connected smartphones, which have developed an information sharing culture in society. In the law enforcement and civil protection space, HaaS is typically used to harvest information regarding physical hazards, crimes and evolving emergencies. The trustworthiness of this information is typically studied in relation to the trustworthiness of the human sensors.

The amount of data generated from mobile devices is greater than ever before. Every time people notice something unusual or noteworthy, they share it with others in social media or using specialised apps. This sharing culture has created an opportunity for harvesting or generating knowledge from the members of the public to facilitate crisis and emergency response. Reliable and trustworthy information received in this manner can help improve emergency responders’ and Law Enforcement Agencies’ (LEA) situational awareness and ability to detect and respond to evolving incidents. This is referred to as the Human-as-a-Sensor (HaaS) paradigm for situational awareness. A key initiative is the TRILLION project, which includes the use of smartphones, mobile apps, wearables and social media to improve community policing, for citizen reporting crimes.

TRILLION’s collaboration with citizens to fight crime makes it an attractive target for cyber criminals. Beyond confidentiality and privacy, attacks against TRILLION may aim to affect availability preventing citizens from accessing it when needed, and integrity, manipulating information, such as the location reported by citizens’ mobile devices. An incident report delivered from a malware-infected mobile device should ideally be handled as an untrusted report regardless of the trustworthiness of the user, but there is no practical way for TRILLION to determine this in real-time and remotely. Beyond strong authentication and encryption, a novel aim in TRILLION and any HaaS wearable devices is to include the capability of gathering information based on the cyber trustworthiness of the platform where they originated from.

Michael Wins Early Career Research Diamond Award

CIDI’s Smart and Connected Systems (SCS) research theme leader Dr Michael Opoku Agyeman wins Early Career Research Diamond Award at UoN’s Pure Launch & Research Diamond Awards (2019).

“Just as a diamond can lie buried within the ground, and needs to be shaped, polished and brought out into the light, so too does our research. Just as a diamond can have a profound effect on others, so too can our research, increasing in significance and reach long after we are gone!”

Celebrating research excellence at the University of Northampton. A special thank you to the University of Northampton research community: staff that make it happen, and the staff who supervise, develop and grow a new generation of researchers as well as the postgraduate researchers.

“Dr Michael Opoku Agyeman continues to impress with not only his outstanding research
contribution in his field but also the quality of his teaching…”. “Though he is an early career researcher, his Management, Teaching, Research and International Relation responsibilities are outstanding and continues to attract international reputation. “

This Award focused on excellence in research for researchers and/or Doctorate students with up to 5 years of post-Doctorate experience. Excellence is demonstrated through contributions to one’s field of study, an ability to provide a stimulating and challenging research environment that incorporates students and teaching, and an ability to communicate research results effectively to relevant audiences. Staff and doctoral students were invited to nominate for five award categories. 59 Nominations were received. These nominations were reviewed by a panel from the research community at the University of Northampton, that selected the top nominations for each award.

The fashion industry- one of the biggest sources of pollution in the world

“You know the colour in fashion next season, by the colours of the rivers in China”-  said Linda Greer, Senior Scientist of Natural Resources Defence Council. According to a recent report, the textile industry emits more greenhouse gas emissions than international shipping and aviation combined. 

Taking into consideration the huge impact of the fashion industry on the pollution (being one of the biggest sources of it), it is the industry’s duty to let people know about the pollution level of the area they are walking in. Except for recycling clothes, by designing a wearable pollution device that changes its colour based on the pollution level, the fashion industry somehow makes up for its damages towards the environment in terms of pollution. 

What is Software-Defined Security for SDN?

The security and protection of information in networks are essential in SDN. It should be safe everywhere and be included in the structure, to presented as a buffer to protect the provision and integrity of privacy for all resources and related information.

While everyone knows security is essential, there is still minimal solutions and technology improvements. The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) started research to discover how to make SDN more secure, and industry players are beginning to include security functionality into their solutions. However, it is immature and will likely hinder the adoption of SDN until addressed sturdily.


Inside the software-defined security for SDN structure, you demand to:

Secure the Controller: as the centralised choice point, access to the controller needs to tightly controlled.
Protect the Controller: if the controller works down (for example, because of a DDoS attack), so goes the network, that means the availability of the controller requires to be maintained.
Establish Trust: protecting the communications entirely the network is essential. That means securing the controller, the applications loaded on it, and the devices it runs are all trusted realities that are operating as they should.
Create a Robust Policy Framework: what’s needed is a system of checks and stability to make sure the controllers are doing what you want them to do.
Conduct Forensics and Remediation: when an incident occurs, you must be able to determine what it was, recover, probably report on it, and then protect opposite it in the future.

Behind the structure, itself, how protection should be expanded, managed, and controlled in an SDN environment is still very much up for grabs. There are competing approaches – some belief security best embedded within the network; others feel it best embedded in servers, storage and other computing devices. Regardless, the solutions need to be designed to create an environment that is more scalable, efficient and secure. They must be:

Simple – to deploy, manage and maintain in the highly dynamic SDN environment.
Cost-effective – to assure security can be stationed everywhere.
Secure – to protect against the latest advanced, targeted threats facing your company.


Source: https://www.sdxcentral.com/research/

Implementation of wearable sensors in different sectors

Recently there has been an  upsurge of usage of wearable sensors in many applications such as medical, entertainment, security, and commercial fields. They can be extremely useful in providing accurate and reliable information on people’s activities and behaviours, thereby ensuring a safe living environment. It may be that the smart wearable sensors technology will revolutionize our life, social interaction and activities very much in the same way that personal computers have done a few decades back. They are widely used in fields such as:

  • Security:    Wearable sensors in the form of panic buttons for emergency help have been in use for a long time and are a huge commercial success. Of course for proper utilization the person needing help should be alert and fit enough to press the button. Most importantly, the panic button should be light in weight so that it is comfortable to wear 24/7.
  • Medical sciences:   Wearable sensors have become very popular, especially in the medical sciences, where there are a lot of different applications in monitoring physiological activities. In the medical field, it is possible to monitor patients’ body temperature, heart rate, brain activity, muscle motion and other critical data. It is important to have very light sensors that could be worn on the body to perform standard medical monitoring. It is possible to measure the blood pressure using wearable sensors through a modified volume-oscillometric technique which eliminates the need for an inflatable pressure cuff and using earphone and mobile device. The use of wearable sensors has made it possible to have the necessary treatment at home for patients after an attack of diseases such as heart-attacks, sleep apnea, Parkinson disease and so on. Patients after an operation usually go through the recovery/rehabilitation process where they follow a strict routine. All the physiological signals as well as physical activities of the patient are possible to be monitored with the help of wearable sensors. During the rehabilitation stage the wearable sensors may provide audio feedback, virtual reality images and other rehabilitative services. The system can be tuned to the requirement of individual patient. The whole activity can be monitored remotely by doctors, nurses or caregivers.
  • Sport/Training:    In the area of sport and training there is an increasing trend of using various wearable sensors. Something, for example, measurement of sweat rate which was possible only in the laboratory based system a few years back is now possible using wearable sensors.
  • Elderly support:    A significant amount of research is currently undergoing in the development of a smart sensing system to detect falls of elderly within the home. Falls are the single largest cause of injury in New Zealand  and it may be true for any other country. In New Zealand one in every three people over the age of sixty five years has a fall every year and it increases to one in two for the age of over eighty years. Falls may lead to several major health problems for the elderly and immediate help needs to be provided to reduce the risk of complications. In the absence of quick help, the elderly may suffer pain, go through emotional distress and even develop other medical complications such as dehydration, hypothermia and so on. The wearable smart panic button can also provide a mental peace to the elderly.
  • Air Pollution:   Air pollution exposure is an invisible hazard responsible for seven million premature deaths every year, according to World Health Organization estimates. But the new generation of wearable high-tech devices, paired with the mobile phones we carry, reveals this hazard so that users can see it in real-time. Personal environmental monitors measure air quality and other environmental data and stream that information to users who may otherwise have no idea what they are breathing. Armed with information, wearers might seek cleaner air by moving off a certain street or opening the window to a smoky room.

It is now an everyday news that the wearable electronics devices and technologies, such as heart rate monitors, smart watches, tracking devices (including PillCam) and smart glasses (google glass), etc. are experiencing a period of rapid growth. Future wearable technology reports that the wearable technologies will impact future medical technology, affecting our health and fitness decisions, deciding which park to go so the air is not polluted, redefining the doctor-patient relationship and reducing healthcare cost. Looking at the bigger picture, research points out that the wearable electronics technologies will undoubtedly continue to expand in consumer sectors.


What is Dark Silicon?

Recent advancements relating to transistor size reduction in technology has fuelled an unprecedented growth in the number of transistors available in microprocessor systems. As a result of this, the number of cores have increased drastically resulting in performance enhancement. Unfortunately, this size reduction increases the power consumption and consequently causes thermal damages, a term many denote as Dark-Silicon. In Dark-Silicon systems, only a fraction of cores can powered-on per time and thus open up many opportunities as well as challenges for providing high performance within an allowable power budget. For this purpose, many multi-core chip blueprints require focus not only on the performance but thermal properties such as hotspot, ageing whilst considering a power budget.

Consequently, this opens up a whole field of exploration to improve the fraction of activity in multi-core systems. Fortunately, there are many ways this can be done. Example of these are Application mapping, Network-on-Chip (NoC) power optimisation (Buffers, Crossbars) and Cache Power optimisation. 

  • The Network-on-Chip (NoC) paradigm has replaced the traditional bus-based systems as the standard interconnect for many-core systems. However, NoC consumes a staggering amount of power and therefore requires configuration in its components for continuous advancement. A reduction of power in NoC components will result in a drastic decrease in overall system power. 
  • Application Mapping – In the dark silicon era, application mapping can be beneficial because it can used to select the appropriate resources for an application to be executed. Applications mapping can be executed in two ways: Contiguous mapping and Non-contiguous mapping. Contiguous mapping is done by mapping application tasks to cores around the same region to prevent communication overheard. Unfortunately, this mapping can sometimes result in thermal hot spot caused by the heat generated by neighbouring resources. Non-contiguous mapping on the other hand causes latency among tasks as resources are randomly mapped across the whole chip. Therefore, a balanced algorithm which considers both these issues is required for an optimised performance.
  •  The introduction of the Last-Level Cache to close down the gap between the memory and processor has resulted in an increase in the total cache power. This is because, Cache memories are created from SRAM Technology which consumes a lot of power. This is means the bigger the memory, the more power it is consumes. LLC’s are bigger in size and thus consumes a lot of power. However, this can be decreased by using Non-volatile memory such as STT-RAM.  

Moreover, for an optimised many-core system, designers needs to consider several stipulations. The fraction of active resources in a dark-silicon many-core system depends not only the power budget provided, it also depends on the appropriate number of activated cores, the thermal hot spot generated during run-time and the amount of power consumed by working components. 



Wearable pollution devices- useful only to make choices for our daily activities?

Engineers have been designing and marketing small, wearable/portable pollution sensors for several years now.  The sensors are intended to inform the users about how pollution levels change as they change their location.

In fact, air pollution can differ drastically even from one neighbourhood to the next, said Michael Jerrett, chair of the department of environmental health sciences at the University of California at Los Angeles. “Depending on the type of pollution, you can see a lot of variability or change in the levels of pollution over very short distances,” he said. For example, a cyclist pedalling down a busy road might be exposed to five or even 10 times higher levels of ultrafine particles or carbon monoxide, thanks to traffic, than would a person in a neighbourhood just a few streets over.

Hence, there are practical choices that such sensors can help us make, such as where to go jogging or which parks to take children to play in. Wearable sensors could in theory be useful on a larger scientific scale as well, although the technology may require some improvements before it reaches that point. “I think that most people who work in environmental or spatial epidemiology would agree that the very best assessment you could get of someone’s exposure would be to have them carry a sensor on their person,” Jerrett said. “And to then know where they were and what they were doing, their activity level.”

Most studies of air pollution and premature mortality have tended to rely on models that take little information into account when it comes to the different neighbourhoods people go into on a day-to-day basis or their activity levels at the time. Researchers may be able to recruit large numbers of people to wear these types of sensors and take part in population-level studies, said Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, a research professor at the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Spain. He has been involved with projects exploring the utility of personal sensors as part of the CITI-SENSE consortium, a collaboration involving several dozen European institutions aiming to develop community-based environmental monitoring projects. Nieuwenhuijsen said some personal sensors measure pollution concentrations “reasonably well,” and may be useful for the individual, but whether they would  be suitable for larger-scale research projects is still unclear.

“Most of them have not reached a level of precision that we would consider valid for research purposes,” Jerrett noted. For instance, certain factors, such as changes in humidity, are suspected to affect the way some sensors report pollution levels, he said.

“I would say that the current state of the science is there are some sensors that are good enough to detect changes in microenvironments,” he said. “But they do not line up as well as we’d like with a reference instrument that would cost $10,000 and require a lot of labour.” As the technology plays catch-up, Nieuwenhuijsen pointed out that there are other issues to be aware of.

“What you have to be careful of is to put too much responsibility on the individual,” he said. Wearable pollution sensors might allow people to make more informed choices about their daily activities, but policymakers still need to look at pollution through a bigger lens and put measures in place to protect whole cities or regions. In other words, action should be “more on a community basis than an individual basis,” he said.

By designing a wearable pollution device that changes its colour based on the pollution level of the area you are walking in, the invisible is made visible to both individuals and environment-related policymakers. Hence, the burden of actions being taken belongs to both individuals (they decide which place to go based on the colour of their costumes) and institutions (as soon as a lot of red costumes are seen in an area, this is a clear indication  that  environmental measures should be taken within that area). Thus, such wearable devices not only affect people’s daily decisions, but can raise awareness among environmental policymakers as well.

Interesting article in BBC News this morning (2/04/19) involving the use of air-monitoring backpack to measure nitrogen dioxide and the smallest particles, called PM2.5.

Source: BBC News

Full Story: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-47777103


  • “The countdown has begun to the launch of one of the world’s boldest attempts to tackle air pollution.”
  • “The initiative comes as scientists say the impacts of air pollution are more serious than previously thought.”
  • “One of the things that has troubled me is that because we can’t see the particulate matter, the nitrogen dioxide, the poison, you don’t take it seriously.”
  • “But over the last few decades, research has revealed how gases like nitrogen dioxide and tiny particles, known as particulate matter or PM, can reach deep into the body with the danger of causing lasting damage.”