Independent QA/QC of air quality sensor data

Independent QA/QC of air quality sensor data
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Independent QA/QC and correction of measurement data from ‘low-cost’ air quality sensors is essential

The air quality monitoring market is being flooded with devices that claim to successfully measure a range of ambient pollutants at low cost.

Local authorities are being encouraged to use these sensors to supplement more expensive and accurate “reference” monitoring sites that are generally few and far between.

The underlying sensor technology has been around for a long time. However, its application is becoming more attractive as improved data processing power and the Internet of Things (IoT) allow for many sensors to be deployed in so-called “hyperlocal networks” to generate large amounts of potentially useful information.

What is the challenge?

  • Unless handled carefully, air quality sensor data can be misleading. Data quality and measurement uncertainty for sensors operating in real-world conditions is often unknown.
  • Air quality sensors are unlikely to provide reliable data ‘out of the box’. Uncorrected responses may differ significantly from the ‘true’ pollution value.
  • These deviations can be extreme – resulting in false alarms or incorrect actions, e.g. if results are being published in real time for public health or traffic management purposes.
  • Without implementing a comprehensive data correction and QA/QC process, data quality is largely unknown, leaving the data and the decisions it underpins open to challenge.

Ricardo's solution
We have the knowledge and experience to help. Ricardo has been developing and delivering QA/QC programmes for innovative and operational air quality monitoring networks for more than 25 years. We offer our clients an independent QA/QC and data correction service that:

  • Delivers corrected sensor datasets representative of real-world pollutant concentrations.
  • Is agnostic in terms of the equipment selected – we will advise you of the most appropriate cost-effective technology for your needs.
  • Will maximise the data capture and analytical insight from your investment.
  • Provides an assessment of data quality and performance to advise how the results from individual sensors or networks can be best used – including for Local Air Quality Management, education and public information.
  • Capitalises on many years of research based on our experience, plus machine learning data science, to deliver reliable air quality sensor data correction.

What are the benefits?

  • Ricardo QA/QC and data correction will provide reliable, insightful air quality sensor data of known quality with a specified uncertainty status e.g. “Indicative” or “Near Reference”.
  • Our service will be tailored to meet the specified budget, needs and quality of information, whether the results are for LAQM reporting, education and public information purposes, or hyperlocal local networks for feedback into modelling, forecasts, traffic management or other Smart Cities applications.
  • Comprehensive QA/QC and data correction ensures results are defensible under challenge.

Added value. Ricardo’s air quality sensor data management and QA/QC services are complemented by:

  • Air quality sensor procurement and maintenance support, drawing upon our unrivalled insight into the air quality data sensor marketplace
  • Ricardo’s real-time data dissemination, reporting and analysis services, including informative and educational websites, alert systems and apps. Example sensor website functions provided on Air Quality England can be found here www.airqualityengland.co.uk, along with routine data analysis and reporting seen here www.airqualityengland.co.uk/local-authority/?la_id=225


For more information or to discuss your organisation’s sensor reporting needs, get in touch with us using the form on this page.