Beckman Fellow 2013-14

Logan Liu

Electrical & Computer Engineering

Liu imageWireless Mobile Nanosensors for Citizen Participatory Water-Sensing Network

Several factors currently limit our ability to assess water conditions. Existing sensors are stationary and far too few in number to cover dynamic changes in urban and agricultural ecosystems. Usually, the sensors’ data are not available in real time and are not integrated into local geospatial information systems. And we have not yet harnessed the crowd-sourcing potential of citizens equipped with mobile devices that can measure water conditions and upload the data in useful ways to the cloud.

During his Center appointment, Professor Liu intends to develop mobile+cloud bridging technology to address these limitations. His group will create a new kind of participatory environmental-sensing network that involves water-quality nanosensors that work with mobile phones, a mobile smart phone application, existing online networks, a cloud-data processing program, and an information-sharing website. Integrating these components into a participatory network will allow citizens to use their mobile phones to measure water quality quantitatively and push their data to the cloud, with each datum contributing to an aggregated water-information map.

On the data-collection side, Professor Liu’s group will design for use with mobile smart phones (a) a compact, low-powered nanosensor to measure water quality, (b) a phone application that structures this data and human observation into spatiotemporal metadata, and (c) dynamic methods for pushing the data to the cloud for processing and exchange. On the data-processing side, the group plans to leverage existing information-streaming services such as Twitter to report and transfer uploaded data, then re-publish the data as geo-referenced streams that can be consumed through a set of Representational State Transfer (REST) web services, effectively in real time.

Prototype components of the new water-sensing network will be tested in urban and agricultural areas of Champaign-Urbana. Success could lead to greatly improved monitoring of the environmental impact on water conditions and spur a revolution in the science of environmental sensing.