Long-term Evaluation of Commercial Air Quality Sensors: An Overview from the QUANT Study
Abstract. In times of growing concern about the impacts of air pollution across the globe, lower-cost sensor technology is giving the first steps in helping to enhance our understanding and ability to manage air quality issues. While the benefits of greater spatial coverage and real-time measurements that these systems offer are evident, challenges still need to be addressed regarding sensor reliability and data quality. Given the limitations imposed by intellectual property, commercial implementations are often "black boxes", which represents an extra challenge as it limits end-users' understanding of the data production process. In this paper we present an overview of the QUANT (Quantification of Utility of Atmospheric Network Technologies) study, a comprehensive 3-year assessment across a range of urban environments in the United Kingdom. QUANT stands out as one of the most comprehensive studies of commercial air quality sensor systems carried out to date, encompassing a wide variety of companies in a single evaluation and including two generations of sensor technologies. Integrated into an extensive data set open to the public, it was designed to provide a long-term evaluation of the precision, accuracy, and stability of commercially available sensor systems. This overview discusses the assessment methodology, and key findings showcasing the significance of the study. The results shown here highlight the significant variation between systems, the incidence of corrections made by manufacturers, the effects of relocation to different environments and the long-term behaviour of the systems. Additionally, the importance of accounting for uncertainties associated with reference instruments in sensor evaluations is emphasised. Practical considerations in the application of these sensors in real-world scenarios are also discussed, and potential solutions to end-users data challenges are presented. Offering key information about the sensor systems' capabilities the QUANT study will serve as a valuable resource for those seeking to implement commercial solutions as complementary tools to tackle air pollution.
Status: open (until 08 Mar 2024)
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