The Citizen Sense “Dustbox” has developed in the course of the practice-based research on “Urban Sensing” in Deptford and surrounding neighborhoods in South London.

The Dustbox kit includes a Shinyei sensor for detecting particulate matter, as well as an Electric Imp for WiFi connectivity, and a printed circuit board developed in collaboration with Adrian McEwen of MCQN Ltd.

The Dustbox shape is based on the visualization and magnification of particles when viewed through an electron microscope. The shapes refer to pollen and carbon (with heavy metals). The Dustbox shapes were developed into 3D-printable format in collaboration with materials designer Francesca Perona, and were printed in matte black ceramic.

Note: We may add to this toolkit over time. Please refer to our Urban Sensing section for the latest updates.

The Dustbox kit includes a “logbook” with instructions for using the device, as well as suggestions for monitoring and recording observations such as noise, smell and other environmental changes along with the sensor data collection. The logbook was designed by Sarah Garcin in collaboration with Citizen Sense.

The Dustboxes will be in use in Deptford and surrounding neighborhoods from 29 October 2016 to April 2017. The devices are available for free loan from the library at the Deptford Lounge.

Resources to build your own Dustbox can be found on GitHub:

Dustbox on GitHub

Dustbox Safety Guide

How to Use and Take Care of Your Dustbox, Including Safety Advice

In addition to setting up your Dustbox and viewing your data, you will want to consider a few additional points when using and maintaining your device, including:

  1. When identifying where to site your Dustbox, you will want to take note of your environment and select a location where you are wondering about likely pollution levels. Or you might like to establish general levels of air pollution away from obvious emission sources. Consider what you want to monitor, and the best location for monitoring this activity.
  2. Once you have decided where to site your Dustbox, carry out a pre-installation inspection of the monitoring site to ensure its suitability for locating the Dustbox.
  3. Select a location that is outdoors but sheltered and out of the rain, wind and elements. Before winds or rain occur, ensure the equipment is secure in the event of extreme weather activity.
  4. Ensure that air flow is able to reach the sensor by locating it away from obstructions. Place the device ground level and away from building surfaces (by approximately 1 meter distance).
  5. Avoid installing the Dustbox in areas that are difficult to access or present health and safety hazards, and choose a location that is free from slip or trip hazards.
  6. Do not place the Dustbox at height or in a location where it could fall and injure passersby.
  7. If you have placed the Dustbox in an area of expected elevated pollution activity, minimise prolonged exposure by spending only short periods of time near the monitoring area.
  8. If you place the Dustbox close to a roadside, take precautions and set the device back from the road to minimise risk from traffic.
  9. To minimise risk from road traffic, do not walk along the road while using monitoring kit or while looking at the website collecting data from the devices.
  10. When installing your Dustbox, be sure to tape down any ground-level cables to minimise trip hazards.
  11. While the Dustbox is a low-power device, you should use an electric circuit breaker to minimise the risk of shock.
  12. Only plug the Dustbox in or out when it is dry outdoors.
  13. Regularly visually inspect the Dustbox to ensure it has not been damaged and there are no obvious defects.
  14.  In the event that dust or bugs get lodged in your sensor, you can power off the device, open the ceramic case at the centre, and spray the sensor opening with canned air. If you have any questions about how to do this, please contact info@citizensense.net.
  15. While you will need to access the Electric Imp to set up the WiFi and to spray out the sensor, you should avoid dismantling the electronics as this could present a risk of shock, and could interfere with the measurement functioning of the device.
  16. Ensure the Dustbox is maintained and in a good state of repair when it is given to you. If it is not, you can return it to the Deptford Lounge or contact us at info@citizensense.net.
  17. Please note that by taking a Dustbox, you agree to take care of your kit and return it to us when requested. More information on how to return your device is available in the logbook section, ‘Dustbox Returns’.
  18. If you are concerned about any changes in the equipment, please contact Citizen Sense.
  19. If you have been given a battery power pack to use along with your Dustbox, please ensure that you take care in handling the battery and do not install it at height. Only plug the battery power pack in or out when it is dry outdoors and be sure to use dry boxes to protect the battery power packs from moisture. Do not place the battery in direct sunlight or expose it to heat greater than 40 degrees Celsius. Under no circumstances should you to disassemble the battery power pack. Only the original plug and cable should be used to charge the power the battery power pack, and the manufacturer’s instructions provided with the battery should be followed at all times.

Note: We may add to this safety guide over time. Please refer to our Urban Sensing section for the latest guidelines and updates.

Dustbox Prototype

Data Analysis

The real-time data from the Dustboxes will be streamed to our Dustbox Streams platform, where the “raw” particle count data (as a percentage) and “converted” data (as PM2.5 µ/m3) will be available to view. We are undertaking calibration in relation to monitoring sites and as an ongoing process, along with testing the Dustboxes in relation to a reference monitor in the London Air Quality Network (LAQN ) at the Marylebone Air Quality Observatory.

It is also possible to analyze the Dustbox data through our Airsift Dustbox data analysis toolkit.

The Airsift data analysis toolkit was originally developed as part of our “Pollution Sensing” research. More information and instructions on how to use the Airsift toolkit, including how to generate and read plots and graphs, can be found through our project resources.

Both the Dustbox Streams platform and the Airsift Dustbox data analysis toolkit were developed in collaboration with web designer and developer, Lau Thiam Kok.

For an example of how to assemble plots and graphs to demonstrate evidence of air pollution problems, see our “Data Stories.” For more information or questions about the Dustbox, contact us.