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Check the air quality by your house, live, through new Calgary start up

SensorUp uses air monitors through the city to give by-the-hour updates

SensorUp's Steve Liang hopes sensors like these will be installed through Calgary – with everyone contributing to the information web.

Aaron Chatha / Metro

SensorUp's Steve Liang hopes sensors like these will be installed through Calgary – with everyone contributing to the information web.

You'll want to hop online before your next morning run - a Calgary start up has launched by-the-hour updates on air quality in different parts of the city.

Last year, SensorUp launched an initiative to give away sensors throughout Calgary, to get data from specific neighbourhoods.

There were a number of ideas going into this: the first was the create a map of Calgary’s air quality, in a cheap way, with the data open and available for anyone to peruse and make use of.

The second was to help introduce the masses to the Internet of Things – the idea that just about anything can be connected, via WiFi, and easily usable with other products, instead of being forced down a silo of just Microsoft or Apple or any other big company.

More to their first point, SensorUp has set up an online component where you can get data from the sensors out in the wild – just about every hour – and help identify some patterns.

“What we noticed is often the wind patterns come from north or west, through to the southeast,” explained SensorUp solutions expert Coral Bliss Taylor.

“When an air event happens, you can see the quality getting less good on the northwest side, you can usually assume it’s going to be that way in about an hour in the southeast.”

Metro took a look at the data over the last week, and although the community with the best air quality changes, the top communities tend to be in the north.

The worst air quality, over the past seven days, was in Woodbine, which is in the city's southwest.

But the differences are minimal.

“It’s nothing to get alarmed about, it’s really just the teeniest blips,” laughed Taylor. ”We’re so lucky here, we really do have incredible air quality.”

In addition to their own sensors, SensorUp also uses data from Calgary Region Airshed Zone sensors. The sensors are meant to complement the city’s sensors, which are far, far fewer in number, but are also huge, million-dollar sensors.

According to a statement from Alberta Health, air pollution can have obvious effects like irritating lungs and eyes, but also chronic diseases like heart disease and bronchitis. When the air quality index is moderate or high for pollutants, they recommend monitoring symptoms and rescheduling, or reducing, outdoor physical activities.

You can view SensorUps data, and learn how to get your own free sensor, through http://calgary-air.sensorup.com.

Later this year, they hope to expand to other cities like Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto.

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