Low-cost air quality sensors offer high-resolution spatiotemporal measurements that can be used for air resources management and exposure estimation. Yet, such sensors require frequent calibration to provide reliable data, since even after a laboratory calibration they might not report correct values when they are deployed in the field, due to interference with other pollutants, as a result of sensitivity to environmental conditions and due to sensor aging and drift. Field calibration has been suggested as a means for overcoming these limitations, with the common strategy involving periodical collocations of the sensors at an air quality monitoring station. However, the cost and complexity involved in relocating numerous sensor nodes back and forth, and the loss of data during the repeated calibration periods make this strategy inefficient. This work examines an alternative approach, a node-to-node (N2N) calibration, where only one sensor in each chain is directly calibrated against the reference measurements and the rest of the sensors are calibrated sequentially one against the other while they are deployed and collocated in pairs. The calibration can be performed multiple times as a routine procedure. This procedure minimizes the total number of sensor relocations, and enables calibration while simultaneously collecting data at the deployment sites. We studied N2N chain calibration and the propagation of the calibration error analytically, computationally and experimentally. The in-situ N2N calibration is shown to be generic and applicable for different pollutants, sensing technologies, sensor platforms, chain lengths, and sensor order within the chain. In particular, we show that chain calibration of three nodes, each calibrated for a week, propagate calibration errors that are similar to those found in direct field calibration. Hence, N2N calibration is shown to be suitable for calibration of distributed sensor networks.
Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies – Elsevier
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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