Helping communities use sensors to solve local issues


Data can often help solve a range of complex environmental issues facing local communities.

Environmental issues can include traffic related problems, such as  congestion and speeding, or localised air and noise pollution.

The sensors required to collect this data are often not readily available to local communities.

Analysis of sensor data also usually requires trained professionals.

Solving the problem

Newcastle University’s Open Lab and Urban Observatory developed a toolkit to support an individual or a community to commission sensors and locate them on their streets. 

SenseMyStreet! has been designed to empower people to collect evidence to inform or even change their communities.

For the first time, communities across Newcastle now have access to precision sensors to enable them to gather data that is relevant to their local issues.

Since launching the project, SenseMyStreet! has successfully installed sensors in multiple communities in Newcastle.

The relevant sensors are loaned to communities, who are supported by the Urban Observatory to collect, clean and analyse data.

A range of sensors are available for monitoring dust particles, noise levels, carbon monoxide levels, traffic speed, and more. Some sensors are handheld, while others are installed on local infrastructure such as lampposts by Urban Observatory engineers.

Key outcomes

Since launching the project, SenseMyStreet has successfully installed sensors in multiple communities in Newcastle.

In 2018, three air quality monitors were installed in Heaton to measure nitrogen dioxide levels and dust particles, with co-located noise sensors to investigate links between noise pollution and air pollution.

The local community are able to access and use this data as evidence in on going campaigns for traffic calming measures and environmental interventions.