Engaged citizens in the Netherlands are eager to measure climate and water quantity and quality-related parameters in and around water bodies in their own residential areas. Various aspects of water quality can be measured manually, but continuous monitoring allows for better identification of certain trends. Validated sensors and monitoring setups, however, are not affordable for the average citizen, and all do-it-yourself (DIY) options with low-cost sensors are either limited, deliver unreliable quality, or are too complex for the average non-professional. To make this more accessible for citizen scientists, PULSAQUA is developing a DIY monitoring device. This monitoring device can serve as a housing for at least 4 different sensors simultaneously, providing space for the microcontroller and communication/data storage. Because it is a DIY device, it is not only multifunctional but also adaptable to the variety of preferences of the Dutch citizen. Cheap, user-friendly, multifunctional, and DIY functional sensor monitoring options are virtually nonexistent. This innovation fills that gap.
The intention is for this DIY monitoring device to become a user-friendly way to set up, install, and share data through a platform. In the initial development phase, the DIY monitoring device (the housing) must be tested for robustness and weather resistance. The test environments provided by VPdelta at the Green Village offer an excellent opportunity and a safe location for this purpose. Additionally, experimentation with different sensors will take place, and their validation can occur by comparing them with professional measurements conducted in the test environment. The data and communication platform, where real-time measurements become visible, can be tested and made attractive. Although a small market research has already been conducted, the second phase of development involves further exploration of the market and the public's demonstration of the monitoring setup and data platform.
Research conducted by the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences on how citizens can be encouraged to take climate measures indicated that mere information and awareness creation are not sufficient. They recommend making the impending consequences of extreme weather concrete and local, emphasizing collaborative efforts. This innovation contributes in various ways to the recommendations of this research. The DIY monitoring device enables citizens to actively measure climate parameters, facilitating their active involvement in climate change and the effects of climate adaptive measures. Temperature, humidity, soil moisture, water level, and water quality are all crucial indicators providing insight into the local climate-related issues residents face. Collaborative measurements also indirectly foster a sense of community. The data and communication platform can enhance this reach, informing residents about the measurements conducted by their neighbors and providing actionable perspectives by exchanging experiences through the platform.
To make the DIY sensor box successful, our goal is to align with the STOWA experiences for online (water quality) sensors. This means that we aim to adhere to the recommendations and checklists provided by STOWA as much as possible, to compare the generated data as closely as possible to official measurement data. The DIY monitoring device, therefore, needs to be developed and tested in the areas of sensor installation using the sensor box, sensor maintenance and cleaning, sensor calibration, data communication, dissemination, and storage, as well as data validation. Furthermore, it is crucial to develop further the user-friendliness and attractiveness of the DIY sensor box so that the target audience can purchase and use it. To achieve this, we need to conduct a one-year outdoor test of the DIY sensor box, preferably under protected conditions.
That is why we will be able to have a test and develop location at The Green Village of the Delft University of Technology.
In 2024 we aim to work towards this together with the CS-NL community, and co-create this sensorkit, that we have called the MeasureMate. We have by now ordered all material, and are ready to build up the first test setup. Will you join us in this endeavor? If you are up for that, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.