Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
City University of Hong Kong
May 1st, 2014

We are infatuated by the 1600 Pandas made out of recycled paper that will be traveling in various parts of Hong Kong. These Panda artwork are designed by the French artist Paulo Grangeon for an outdoor exhibition to promote green living. Green living and sustainability is now an important focus in the world. As the Pandas tour the entire Hong Kong, we moot the idea of measuring the air quality using the portable air quality monitors along the Panda tour route eventually and plotting these data on a map of Hong Kong! We are however taking baby steps now and so far have gathered air quality measurements at the ground level in an area the size of a basketball court.

panda1 pm2

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Our very first IBM Students for a Smarter Planet Blog to kick-start this long-term project on big data analytics for environmental problem!!
On the 5th April, 2014, we finally have a chance to meet with our collaborators on this project, the professional staffs at the Hong Kong Clean Air Network, which is a non-government organization (NGO) that focuses on air quality issues in Hong Kong (and to certain extent those in Mainland China). Air pollution is a serious major problem that has plagued Hong Kong and also increasingly in many cities in Mainland China. This problem requires all levels of involvement from the society, and definitely long-term commitment. Trained as future engineers and computer scientists, we want to do our part as well, no matter how small it is.

The staffs at the Hong Kong Clean Air Network also provide all kinds of air quality monitoring equipments for loan to the public and to encourage the public to know more about the health impacts of air pollution. Truly altruistic bunch of great people!

We learnt a lot about scientific approach to air quality from them, probably things that we would never be able to learn at a university.  We borrowed an air quality monitoring sensor from them for our project. This is actually a product from TSI Inc. Here is the official website for this product: Here are the things we have:


Basically, this sensor can measure the air quality by the amount of fine particulate matter in mg/m3. The sensor can displays real-time aerosol concentration readings and can be recorded at programmable time intervals of 1 sec, 1 minutes, 5 minutes, 15 minutes or up to 30 minutes. The measuring area is the worker breathing zone, or area measurements with a respirable cyclone for this sensor. In order to capture the air quality statistics at the street level, we need to connect the sensor with a tube, and place the mouth of this tube near our noses as shown in the picture below. 


We are so excited to have a first recording soon!

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This project team aims to develop “CLEAN” a Cloud-computing based Environmental Analytics Network that leverages crowd-sourcing techniques to bring together the collective efforts of social media data and heterogeneous air quality monitors in Hong Kong to reliably identify air quality, and provide accurate and personal healthcare advisory to the public in real-time.  They will develop a software platform for smart phones which is intended to inform citizens about air quality, and health advisories, using analytics.


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