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Sensor-Equipped Lamp Posts to Measure Traffic, Pollution in Chicago

Let there be light! And big data, of course.

Researchers in Chicago are deploying networked, sensor-equipped lamp posts to learn how they can help urban planning and safety. According to the Chicago Tribune, the data-collection sensors affixed to the lamp posts will measure air quality, light intensity, sound volume, heat, precipitation and wind. The sensors will also count people by measuring wireless signals from mobile devices.

If the project is successful, Chicago officials would be easily able to tell if air pollution is beyond normal levels, or if a small sidewalk is become a choke point for pedestrians. 

In an effort to reassure privacy proponents, computer scientist and director of the Urban Center for Computation and Data Charlie Catlett says the planners have taken precautions to design the sensors to observe mobile devices and count contact with the signal rather than record the digital addresses of devices. 

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