Researchers have learned much about the health impacts of air pollution, but it remains a challenge to provide people information for making healthy choices. The CitiSense air quality sensor and system enable individuals to identify when and where they are exposed to poor air in real time. We present a qualitative analysis of a 4-week field study of 29 commuters using CitiSense. We focus on how they reasoned about, acted on, and shared the new information. We found that CitiSense’s mobile monitoring and real-time displays provided a bridge between sensing and understanding, as well as shifting how users reasoned about their world, how they assessed their personal choices, and how they impacted and connected with their communities. In a sub-study of 13 participants with public displays at their workplace, we found evidence that the displays helped non-sensor wearers engage with the data and contributed to feelings of community.
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The acronyms ppm and ppb mean parts per million and parts per billion, respectively.
The complete reasoning for this phenomenon is beyond the scope of this paper, but two contributors are the sunlight over the day that converts NO2 to O3 and lower nighttime temperatures that tend to precipitate the day’s pollutants out of the air.
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We thank our many participants for their sincere contributions to this project.We also thank our computer support team for configuration of the public displays. Finally, we thank Sanjoy Dasgupta, Ingolf Krueger, Tajana Rosing, Nakul Verma, and Piero Zappi for their early work on the CitiSense project.
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This work was supported in large part by the National Science Foundation under grants CNS-0932403 and CNS-1446912. Additional mobile phone support was provided as a gift from Qualcomm Inc. Two of the public displays used were funded by the UCSD FWGrid Project, NSF Research Infrastructure Grant EIA-0303622.
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Bales, E., Nikzad, N., Quick, N. et al. Personal pollution monitoring: mobile real-time air quality in daily life. Pers Ubiquit Comput 23, 309–328 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00779-019-01206-3