City Scanner

What we discover when we turn
urban vehicles into sensing platforms

City Scanner proposes a drive-by solution to capture the spatiotemporal variation in environmental indicators in urban areas, such as air quality or the thermal flux of the built environment. Instead of deploying a dedicated fleet, we have deployed various types of environmental sensors on garbage trucks in the City of Cambridge.

With a few garbage trucks, we collected various environmental data for the whole city over several months. The result is 1.6 million data points including thermal images, temperature, humidity, and air quality data.

The spatio­temporal datasets play a significant role in smart city domain by empowering advanced analytics solutions for decision makers and urban managers. The City Scanner project follows a centralized IoT regime to generate a near real-time map of sensed data, building on existing fleets and moving sensing platforms.

Sensing Node Prototypes

Greta | (2017)

Greta I, our concept prototype, an exploration of different modular sensing components for the first time deployed on a moving vehicle.

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Greta || (2018)

Greta II, adds real-time data streaming, a novel non-permanent magnetic binding system and autonomous operations via solar energy.

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Blackburn (2019)

Blackburn, a new form-factor characterized by a waterproof shell and optimized sensing hardware, enables for large sensing fleet towards long-term data collection studies.

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Thermal Imaging

Thermal imaging can be used to assess the energy efficiency of building envelopes, monitor infrastructure, and study the impact of anthropogenic heat in the cities (e.g. Urban Heat Island effect).

Particulate Matter

City Scanner counts particles in different diameter size bins (PM10, PM2.5 and PM1) using a small laser. The particle counts are an indicator to determine signatures of different pollution sources. This data can inform epidemiological research and urban health policies.

& Humidity

City Scanner includes low-cost temperature and humidity sensors that can be used to understand pedestrian activities as well as heat islands in urban areas.

Road Quality

Using accelerometers, City Scanner identifies road quality based on the vehicle vibrations. City Scanner literally creates a roadmap for improving roads.

launch application