We chat with Yodit Stanton, Founder and CEO of Open Sensors, about her ideas behind winning summer showcase project Heathrow Air, and what she has in store
Heathrow Air will deploy air quality and noise sensors in gardens around Heathrow.
Hi Yodit! What’s your idea in a nutshell?
Heathrow Air will deploy a number of air quality and noise sensors in residential gardens around Heathrow. The ultimate aim is to demonstrate the value of using data for urban planning. The project will combine data from the air quality and noise sensors (all published as open data in real-time using OpenSensors.io) with flight information and wind direction. This will give some insight into the impacts that the airport has on local residents. The output will be presented on a web dashboard and we will attempt to give some meaningful explanation of the data.
While a small project, we hope to give an example methodology that could be repeated on larger scales or in other areas. All information on the deployment, code for the hardware, data analysis calculations and the raw data will be released openly.
Sounds interesting! What gave you this idea?
The ‘third runway debate’ can often be polarised according to people’s subjective viewpoints. We hope the neutrality of data would enable us to discuss and predict environmental impact more objectively. Noise and air pollution isn’t just annoying; they can have a real impact on people’s health and wellbeing, especially if they breach European limits.
City planning especially could benefit from using open data in order to understand impact. We all want our cities and public spaces to be liveable and fulfil residents’ needs. We would like to see more projects understanding how to build better cities using open data.
When did you first get excited about open data?
I have been a fan of open data since I watched the famous Tim Berners-Lee TED talk.
Open data instinctively makes sense to me, in its efficiency, for example. It especially makes sense in the context of the Internet of Things. Sensor networks are quite expensive to install and maintain; being able to reuse data is the only way to enable them to scale and get a return on investment for the taxpayer.
It would be a mistake for the only sensor infrastructure in a city to produce data that was closed, locking it in to a single provider. Creating open cities enables us to leverage the huge amounts of engineering talent to build diverse systems and services.
Where do you see open data in 10 years?
As an ODI Startup, I have watched the ODI grow with pride over the last couple of years. I am astonished at the pace of change and what has been accomplished in such a short amount of time. It’s so hard to say what will happen in 10 years! I would like open data to be the default around the world, and be an accepted part of the way organisations and governments operate.
At OpenSensors.io we are focusing on building the next generation of cities, buildings and other connected environments where free flow of open data will allow rapid innovation. We wan this to bring about the next wave of the internet, connecting not just humans but also potentially billions of sensors and devices.
What are your plans for your project, and how will you achieve them?
The output of this project will be visualisations that give us some understanding of the issues facing the Heathrow locality. More importantly, we hope to give a set of tools and information to empower people to start using citizen science for their own needs. We are already getting contacts from other countries that want to reproduce this project for their local areas and this is the ideal outcome. We have succeeded if we seed variations of these types of projects to get started and meet local needs.
Data is being published openly through this portal.
The ODI summer showcase commissions open data projects with tangible economic, social or environmental impacts. Find out more here.