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A total of ten air quality sensors will become available for loan as of 11 March at Itäkeskus, Vallila and Viikki libraries, and Central Library Oodi. The air quality sensors measure the carbon monoxide content of outdoor air, and the results of the measurements can be viewed on a downloadable smart phone application.

The air quality sensors are intended to be carried on the wrist using the attached wrist strap. The sensor transmits data to the user’s phone via Bluetooth, where it can be viewed using the Oo application developed by The measurement data is also transmitted to the University of Helsinki, where it is used for research purposes. As the data accumulates, the results can also be viewed by anyone on the website and on information boards in the libraries that loan out the sensors. 

The aim of loaning out air quality sensors is to collect data on the air quality of different areas of the city as comprehensively as possible.

“The aim of measuring carbon monoxide content is to gain an overview of air quality, in addition to which the data collected with the sensors can be utilised in many ways in urban planning,” says CEO Janne Edgren of Loopshore Oy, the company that developed the air quality sensors. “The air quality measurements provide information on things like where traffic should be redirected during specific times of day. In Norway, for example, air quality data has been utilised to set restrictions on passenger car traffic and reduce public transport fares during times when air quality is low,” says Edgren.

The air quality sensors now being made available for loan are still in their prototype stage.

“The sensors are not yet perfect, so user experiences and feedback are vital for further development,” says Edgren. He is hoping that library customers will participate in testing the sensors and thus contribute to the development of the city.

The library loaning of air quality sensors is part of the UrbanSense project between the City of Helsinki, the University of Helsinki and the City’s innovation company Forum Virium Helsinki, in which 5G solutions are utilised to observe the urban environment and monitor air quality in real time.

“It is the duty of libraries to facilitate access to information and promote public discussion, and the sensors now being tested do just that. It is great to for us and our customers to be able to participate in these kinds of data collection efforts, the aim of which is to gain a better understanding of the state of our environment,” says the City of Helsinki’s Director of Library Services Katri Vänttinen.

The air quality sensors now being tested are printed using 3D printers and made of biodegradable plastic. The devices have a loan time of two weeks. They cannot be reserved and loans cannot be renewed. The air quality sensors will remain available for loan until further notice.