CENSAM to Concentrate on Sensor Technology

Researchers from MIT and two Singaporean universities met recently for an inaugural workshop to launch CENSAM, the Center for Environmental Sensing and Modeling. The program will develop pervasive environmental sensor networks to collect data on parameters such as air and water quality from many sources and use this data to provide accurate, real-time monitoring, modeling and control of the environment.

One of the first goals of the research group is to prove the feasibility of the concept in a carefully managed urban area like Singapore. These concepts eventually may be applied on different scales to provide up-to-the-minute data about the environment in areas as small as a building or as large as the Earth's biosphere.

CENSAM is a research component of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology Centre (or SMART Centre), a joint project of MIT and the National Research Foundation of Singapore that was announced Jan. 23.

Professor Andrew Whittle of MIT's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is head of the CENSAM research group. Whittle and an initial group of about 15 MIT faculty members from civil and environmental engineering, mechanical engineering, architecture and earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences will work with researchers from the National University of Singapore, the Nanyang Technological Institute, the Singaporean Public Utilities Board, and other governmental agencies and companies.

"Our grand challenge is to build up expertise in the general areas of environmental sensing and modeling. Our longer term goal is to develop a model representation of the built and natural environment that will seamlessly transition from the micro-scale of a building to the macro-scale, say of the South China Sea-East Asia region," said Whittle, whose own expertise is in the underground construction of urban environments. He has already developed prototype sensor network technology to monitor underground water distribution and sewer pipes in Boston.

CENSAM research will fall into five broad areas: the built and natural environment; urban hydrology and water supply; coastal environment; marine environment; and development of ways to monitor and model Singapore's urban environment.

Political party affiliation has little bearing on the number of "green" actions people take, a new study by Porter Novelli and George Mason University shows. According to the survey of more than 11,000 American adults and nearly 1,000 of their children, Democrats and Republicans differ only slightly when it comes to taking actions to protect the environment, despite great differences in their perceptions of danger related to global warming.

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