"The Tata Center for Technology and Design trains and supports MIT researchers working to solve challenges facing communities in India and the developing world. Out work spans six overlapping areas: agriculture, energy, environment, health, housing, and water.

Tata Center projects go beyond the lab and seek real-world impact, guided by the core principles of relevance, practicality, and sensitivity to context.

Working with collaborators throughout India, and with out sister-centre at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, the Tata Center creates solutions designed to serve human needs."

For more information on the Tata Center, please visit their website.

We are a group of researchers, housed in the MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, dedicated to better understanding the lifecycle of pollutants in Earth's atmosphere using low-cost sensors (LCS). Check back soon for more information on our research.

Current Projects

Monitoring Volcanic Pollutants in Hawai'i

The measurements shown on this website are from a new air quality network, put in place specifically to monitor the volcanic smog ("vog") arising from the 2018 Lower Puna eruption. This network was designed and built by researcher's at MIT's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, with assistance from local community partner The Kohala Center.

Vog rises from the summit a Kilauea
Vog rises from the summit at Kilauea.

Air pollutant measurements are made using small, low-cost sensors, and therefore are not expected to be as accurate as regulatory-grade air quality monitors such as those operated by the Hawai'i Department of Health. However, because of their small size and cost, they can be deployed more widely than standard monitors, resulting in highly localized air quality data.

Each monitor provides measurements of two toxic components of vog: sulfur dioxide gas (SO2) and airborne particles (particulate matter, or "PM"). Sub-categories of PM are based on particle size: PM2.5 refers to smaller particles (2.5 micrometers and smaller), and PM10 to larger, "coarse" particles (10 micrometers and smaller). Please see the International Volcanic Hazards National Network (IVHNN) website for more information on these pollutants and on vog in general. In addition, here are some recommended sites for further information:

This project is funded by MIT's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, with additional support from the US EPA and the Tata Center for Technology and Design.

For more information on this project, please contact us here.

Measuring Urban Air Quality in Delhi, India

The evidence linking air pollution to negative health effects is overwhelming, with many studies describing the affects of key pollutants on quality of life and mortality rates. According to the Wold Health Organization (WHO) the problem is particularly dire in India, which is said to be home to 13 of the world's 20 most polluted cities in the world.

Data collected while riding around Delhi in Auto Rickshaw's
Here, we collected data while riding around Delhi in an auto-rickshaw.

Currently, most cities have just a few stationary sites to monitor these pollutants; these are insufficient for providing the spatially and temporally resolved data that is necessary for properly monitoring exposure. This is especially true for complex environments with large and highly variable emission sources. Dense networks of low-cost sensors can help provide the granularity to help us better understand the pollutant complexities that arise when living and working in an urban environment.

The goal of this project is therefore to develop a more complete understanding of urban atmospheric chemistry in megacities using low-cost atmospheric measurement devices, gathering data that can be leveraged by governments and researchers to mitigate air pollution.

We are developing relatively inexpensive sensors that can be deployed in dense networks to monitor criteria pollutants including both gas-phase pollutants (CO, NO2, O3, SO2) and particulates (PM1, PM2.5, PM10). We have several prototypes in the field, monitoring data in real-time, while we continue to refine the technology in the lab.

For more information on this project, please see our page on the Tata Center website.

Data Disclaimer

This is an experimental air quality network based on low-cost air quality sensors. It is not a regulatory-grade air quality network and thus sensor accuracy and reliability are not yet fully known. Therefore, measurements provide only a general picture of the local air quality, and all data should be used with caution. In addition, the data are live and there will be times when an instrument malfunctions, power is lost, or something else causes an abnormal sensor reading. This is normal and we do our best to filter all such anomalies; however, be aware that on occasion misleading readings may appear on the website.

If you have a reason to believe a sensor reading is incorrect or notice some odd sensor behaviour, please report it to us so we can do our best to fix any and all issues as soon as possible.