COS Independent Work Seminar:
Apps for the Environment
Alan Kaplan (office hours TBA)
Meeting time and place:
Fridays, 11:00 AM - 12:20PM, Room COS 301
Our environment - climate, food, health, air, water, vegetation, wildlife, etc. - is increasingly changing. And as our environment changes, so does the need to become more aware of the problems that are occurring in it. Given their sheer number - many estimate that there over two (2) billion smartphone and tablet users worldwide - mobile devices offer an opportunity to help crowdsource environmental data.
The overall goal of the independent work projects in this seminar is to explore the use of mobile technology to help better monitor environmental data and events. Specifically, projects will involve developing innovative Android apps, possibly integrated with third party sensors/devices and/or open source platforms, that help capture, analyze, visualize, and ultimately, better understand environmental data.
There are many, many possible project ideas. Here are a few. And check out some of the open source software/data, articles and other sites (below) - these should help you generate a few ideas.
Develop a mobile noise pollution mobile app based on the Noisetube open source platform to help communities understand how pollution impacts their lives. Part of this work would involve contributing updates to Noisetube to the open source community
Create an Android app to help people identify whether a vacant lot would work as a community garden, based on exposure, soil, proximity of other gardens, lack of fresh food options, location of hydrants, etc. (This work would be done in conjunction with Isles.org, a community organization based in Trenton.)
Create a mobile geo-based framework that integrates commercial-off-the-shelf sensors (e.g., biometric, microscopes, radiological, UAVs, etc) with an Android device (smartphones and tablets). Such a framework would enable collection and analysis of samples (such as medical or environmental) in the field.
Create an Android app that can discover and access a publically available sensor, such as the Air Quality Egg, and then publish the data via a social app, such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- Measuring NYC Parks usership: with more than 29,000 acres under the NYC Parks jurisdiction distributed across the five boroughs, quantifying the number of people who visit Parks is a massive challenge given the size of the Parks network. Could a smartphone app be developed that could help measure this fundamental number, and begin to understand how these use patterns change over time and in response to programming and facility improvements, and a get a better sense of how our parks are being used?
Push notifications of NYC Parks happenings powered by open data:
With a huge jurisdiction, how can you communicate with users effectively and provide timely information when there are so many points of entry into the parks system? This project could create a native Android app that used location to notify park goers there is an upcoming (or happening) event in a particular park they are about to enter, or tell them about an art installation. XML feeds of that type of content (could be coupled with the Measuring Park Usership challenge above) could be used to feed content to that app, which are available throughout the Parks website and the Open Data Portal for example:
- Mapping air temperature to quantify the Urban Heat Island effect in cities / impact of lack of shading, waste heat from vehicles, etc. on human comfort and experience, distinct from mapping using surface temperature as a proxy for satellite imagery.
- Independent work:
- Data and APIs:
- Research Papers:
- Stevens, M., and D'Hondt, E. Crowdsourcing of pollution data using smartphones. In Workshop on Ubiquitous Crowdsourcing 2010. 12th ACM International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing. Copenhagen, Denmark, 2010. PDF
- Stuart Moran, Nadia Pantidi, Tom Rodden, Alan Chamberlain, Chloe Griffiths, Davide Zilli, Geoff Merrett, and Alex Rogers. 2014. Listening to the forest and its curators: lessons learnt from a bioacoustic smartphone application deployment. In Proceedings of the 32nd annual ACM conference on Human factors in computing systems (CHI '14). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 2387-2396. PDF
- Heng, Iem ; Zhang, Andy ; Heimbinder, Michael ; Yap Raymond. A unique environmental mobile device for detecting hazardous chemicals. 2012 IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference. Seatle, WA. October 2012. PDF
- Heo, G.; Genong Yu; Liping Di, "A reconfigurable open GeoSMS mobile client App design for Android smartphones," Second International Conference on Agro-Geoinformatics, 12-16 Aug. 2013. PDF
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Why Android?
We needed to standardize on a development environment. And while iOS/Objective-C is great, Android is Java-based and it is easy to deploy Android apps. And there are more Android devices in the world!
- Is it still possible to do an iPhone app?
If you are an iOS wiz and you have an interesting idea, then it's possible. Let's talk.
- I don't know Android. How will I learn to develop an Android app?
No problem. There are many tutorials available for learning Android. Many IW students successfully learn Android as part of the IW project.
- Can I partner with someone?
Yes. As long as you can decompose the problem that your team is addressing into individual sub-areas. For example, one partner might be focusing on the native Android client, while another is building a specialized sensor, and a third is focusing on the backend. Each person will still need to write their own proposal, paper and poster. Of course, there will be some overlap.
- I don't own an Android smartphone - will one be provided?
You can apply for funds to purchase an Android smartphone. See Funding. Let's discuss the appropriate device before you apply for funding.
- I would like to use a ______ sensor with my Android smartphone - will one be provided?