Air quality by bus opened the door to summer jobs

​Six students at the Computer Engineering program at Chalmers decided to measure Gothenburg's air quality using a bus. It has led all the way to summer jobs and awards.
During spring, small air quality measuring stations have been placed on several bus stops along the route of bus 55, including at Chalmersplatsen and Götaplatsen. In addition, one of the buses on the line has had a sensor on the roof, which in real time could measure the air quality of the city along the way the bus travels.
“There are already great sensors from the City’s Environmental Administration, but with a bus you can cover a huge area. In addition, the measuring equipment ends up in a good height, it is at street level that people breathe”, says Lina Lagerquist who, together with Magnus Carlsson, Åke Axeland, Henrik Hagfeldt, Simon Duchén and Sofija Zdjelar, study the third year at Computer Technology and have been part of the group.

Placed a meter on the bus
The idea appeared on an ideathon before Christmas. After winning it, the students went on to do a bachelor thesis based on the idea.
“We wanted to design a chain between sensors that measure air quality in Gothenburg and a web application where we can both see the measurement data in real time and during time periods in compiled reports. The chain also includes a server that we have developed that receives and manages the measurement data”, says Lina Lagerquist.

Early during the bachelor thesis, contact was made with Ericsson, Västtrafik and the Environmental Administration, and then there was no difficulty in placing a meter on one of the electric buses that go through town.
“Everyone has been accommodating and it went quickly to be permitted to place the sensors out when we got in touch. That's a topical issue”, says Lina Lagerquist.

Important collaboration for Västtrafik
Hanna Björk is Head of Sustainability at Västtrafik:
“Our collaboration with Chalmers and the students is important for us, to be able to take part of the ideas and knowledge that the students have. We have recently conducted a test drive campaign to attract motorists to more sustainable ways of traveling, with the issue of whether we should act differently if we saw the problem – that is, the poor air quality. Carrying out this test gives another dimension to the problem and hopefully the students' ideas can be taken from test to development that society then benefits from”, she says.

The project has used the Environmental Administration's air quality meter on Nordstan's roof as a reference. It turned out that the project's simple and inexpensive sensors followed the same trends but were not sufficiently reliable for the students to want to go out with their results.
“We deliberately chose cheap sensors to see how they managed. Now we are thinking about how to make progress, for example placing more of them and denser, to get a more reliable result”, says Lina Lagerquist.

Summer jobs at Ericsson
And there will opportunities for more tests and theories. Everyone in the group have gotten a summer job at Ericsson.
“We will work on developing a foundation for a technical system that ElectriCity will be able to use in future air measurements. It is such a great opportunity that we are very happy about. And it is awesome to see that you can put your studies into practice, that we can accomplish something and are on the right path”.
In addition, the group has been awarded the Entrepreneurial Student Award within the Eng project at Chalmers.

In the end, Lina Lagerquist and the others hope to be able to contribute to making people more aware of the problems of air pollution.
“Poor air quality is a global problem, and one has to understand what it is to do something about it. Therefore, we hope that this project will be the same eye-opener for others as it has been for us”.

Text: Erik Krång
Photo: Johan Bodell

Published: Wed 12 Jun 2019. Modified: Thu 13 Jun 2019