By Jolie Lee

By year’s end, Chicago could have as many as 50 sensors attached to downtown light poles collecting data on everything from the humidity to air quality to the noise level.

The project, called “Array of Things,” has the potential for far-reaching applications. For example, air quality data could help you navigate a route through the city that avoids pollution and allergens. Or traffic data could inform the city where best to install bike lines.

“The whole project is, how can you get the city to be more helpful to people by telling us about itself?” said Charlie Catlett, director of the Center for Computation and Data at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, in an interview with USA TODAY Network.

Catlett’s center is taking the lead on the project in partnership with Chicago. The sensors are located in a box and will be covered with a decorative aluminum shield. A prototype will be completed in the next couple of weeks, Catlett said.

The first of the sensors will appear along Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago.

The data — which also includes wind, heat, light intensity and precipitation — will be made public on Chicago’s open data website, as well as a separate online database, allowing individuals to build their own applications, Catlett said.

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Areas of Focus: Air Pollution
Definition
Air Pollution
Air pollution from fossil fuel combustion poses a grave threat to human health worldwide. EPIC research is using real-world data to calculate the effects of air pollution on human health...