Ceci N'est pas une pipe bombe: Authoring urban landscapes with air quality sensors

Stacey Kuznetsov, George Noel Davis, Jian Chiu Cheung, Eric Paulos

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

34 Scopus citations


Our work explores the convergence between participatory sensing, political activism and public expressions. Unlike prior research, which focuses on personal sensing, we present low-cost, networked air quality sensors, designed to be repositioned across public landscapes by communities of citizen stakeholders. Our GPS-enabled sensors report dust, exhaust, or VOC's (volatile organic compounds), along with temperature, humidity and light levels to a website that visualizes this data in real time. The sensors can be attached to a variety of surfaces serving as research probes to demarcate ('tag') public spaces with environmental concerns. We deploy our fully functional system with four urban communities-parents, bicyclists, homeless and activists, positioning our system as a tool for studying and supporting community togetherness and public activism. Our findings highlight community sharing of the physical sensors and dialogues surrounding the collected data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCHI 2011 - 29th Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Conference Proceedings and Extended Abstracts
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9781450302289
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings


  • Participatory sensing
  • Political computing
  • Urban computing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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