Integrating Low-Cost Sensor Systems and Networks to Enhance Air Quality Applications

13 June 2024

Low-cost air quality sensor systems (LCS) are emerging technologies for policy-relevant air quality analysis, including pollution levels, source identification, and forecasting. This report discusses LCS use in networks and alongside other data sources for comprehensive air quality applications, complementing other WMO publications on LCS operating principles, calibration, performance assessment, and data communication. 

The LCS’s utility lies in their ability to provide new insights into air quality that existing data sources may not offer. While LCS data must be verified, their integration with other data sources can enhance understanding and management of air quality. In areas without reference-grade monitors, LCS can identify factors affecting local air quality and guide future monitoring efforts. Combining LCS data with satellite and other air quality systems can improve data reliability and establish corroborating evidence for observed trends. LCS can extend the spatial coverage of existing monitoring networks, offering localized insights and supporting effective air quality management policies. Co-locating LCS with reference-grade monitors helps quantify measurement uncertainties and apply LCS data appropriately for forecasting, source impact analysis, and community engagement. 

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Press Release

Key messages
  • Low-cost sensors can fill gaps in existing networks
  • Low and middle income countries can benefit
  • They are an important additional tool which can be harnessed at the community level
  • Data-driven policy supports action towards combating air pollution
  • The effects of air pollution lead to an estimated 7 million deaths every year