Research and Data Science

Internet of Things Devices & Data Visualization Provide Insight into Indoor Air Quality

An image of the portable device used to measure carbon dioxide in classrooms on campus.Multiple campus groups and Office of Information Technology (OIT) teams have collaborated on a multi-disciplinary initiative to better understand indoor air quality on The Hilltop.

After continued discussions in the Faculty Senate regarding classroom air quality and the spread of COVID-19, Physics department faculty member Dr. Thomas E. Coan approached OIT staff to work together on a method to capture environmental data within classrooms and visualize said data to make inferences on possible pathogen spread, power consumption, air quality, and their possible effects on student attention and success.

OIT’s Guillermo Vasquez used his Internet of Things (IoT) know-how to produce a device that can be easily placed into classrooms. This small device is made up of a LTE data-capable development board, a long-lasting lithium battery, and a sensitive Carbon Dioxide sensor. This device takes measurements every five minutes, then sends the sensor data via PHP webhook to a central server that further formats the data into a MySQL database.

A screenshot of the CO2 Dashboard in Tableau
The CO2 Dashboard on Tableau

From that database, OIT’s Chad Madding has worked to build an interactive dashboard using Tableau to make the data visually appealing for the public and to make it easier to make actionable decisions and operational changes to improve the classroom environments at SMU.

This example is just one showcase of what can be achieved when colleagues of all skills and experiences come together to tackle a common goal. In the future, an environmental data collection and visualization tool like this one can be utilized to actively monitor and proactively make changes to facilities to ensure our Mustangs are as healthy and successful as possible.

Associate CIO Jason Warner invites others to work with OIT as well. “SMU faculty have incredible ideas, though usually are not aware of all of the things OIT can do to help turn ideas into real prototypes, projects, and innovations. If you have an idea—talk to someone from OIT about turning it into a plan. If you want to learn more about how OIT can help turn your ideas into results—just ask! We’d love to meet with you to solve problems.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Published by

Zach Peterson

Zach is a Senior IT Training & Communications Consultant with OIT. Zach began his SMU career at the IT Help Desk in 2012 and joined the Training & Communications Team in 2015. He is a 2011 graduate from the University of North Texas and obtained a Master of Liberal Studies degree from SMU in 2018. He enjoys reading and collecting vintage and antique radio sets. He grew up in Valley View, Texas near Denton.