Dublin gets 20 sensors to monitor emissions in real time

26 Jan 2024

Image: © Cristi/Stock.adobe.com

The Urban Sense project aims to provide a real-time visual pulse of Dublin, as part of a broader initiative to better understand greenhouse gas emissions in various environments.

A new year-long pilot project has been launched to measure and monitor greenhouse gas emissions across Dublin using novel, low-cost sensors.

The pilot project – called Urban Sense – involves the deployment of 20 of these sensors across residential and commercial locations around Dublin. The sensors use mobile phone mast infrastructure. The sensors are able to measure gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, but can also check other air quality parameters and weather variables.

It is hoped that these sensors will provide a real-time visual pulse of the city, showing various data trends such as the seasonal cycle in vegetation growth, weather events and hourly patterns of traffic.

The Urban Sense project was officially launched today (26 January) at the Mansion House in Dublin. Minister for the Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport Eamon Ryan, TD,  said the project will assist Dublin City Council and that local government has a “vital role to play” in helping Ireland hit its climate targets.

“Climate action works best when it works locally, improving our environment and improving people’s quality of life,” Ryan said. “This real-time visual pulse of the city will be key to assisting Dublin City Council in developing the policy actions that can help reduce emissions and make the city a better place to live, work or visit with cleaner air, safer transport and less congestion and noise.”

A map of Dublin with green dots in various locations, showing where small sensors have been placed.

A map of the sensors placed around Dublin as part of the Urban Sense project. Image: Terrain-AI.

The Urban Sense project is being developed by Terrain-AI, a large-scale research project focused on creating a better understanding of greenhouse gas emissions across various environments.

Terrain-AI is a collaboration between Maynooth University, Teagasc, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin (UCD), Dublin City University (DCU) and the University of Limerick. It is also being funded by Science Foundation Ireland and Microsoft.

“We are delighted to work with our partners on this pilot project, which will provide us with a unique opportunity to test and validate our models and methods in an urban setting and potentially contribute to the EU Cities Mission,” said Terrain-AI co-principal investigator Prof Rowan Fealy.

“We hope that this project will serve as a model for other European cities to follow and to demonstrate the effectiveness of policy decisions on emissions.”

The sensors were developed and built by Edgeliot, a DCU spin-out that is focused on recording climate data at a low cost. Other partners in the Urban Sense project are telecoms company Cellnex, telecoms infrastructure company Delmec and Dr Gerard Mills of UCD.

The climate crisis remains a key focus for businesses and governments. Earlier this week, the Irish Government published its National Biodiversity Action Plan 2023-2030 to tackle the deepening crisis of biodiversity loss in Ireland. This is the first biodiversity plan to be published since the Government declared a biodiversity and climate emergency in 2019.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic