The Customizable Sensor Packages for Healthy Homes Workshop


DPI Workshop

At the beginning of the workshop, the basic premise was described and a demonstration was provided, in which two sensors from two manufacturers were plugged into a single Raspberry Pi computer and the data were accessed remotely using Amazon Web Service. This demonstrated the potential for selecting different sensors and having the data be integrated in a manner that would allow a viewer to identify patterns across contaminants.


    A key topic of discussion was the question of who the users would be of the technology. A number of possibilities arose, including:
  • Residents
  • Medical professionals
  • Community health workers
  • Home visit nurses
  • Pediatric environmental health units
  • Asthma consortia
  • Respiratory health associations
  • Builders
  • Utility partners

Additionally, possible roles for educators, first responders, policy makers, and those involved with technology automation were identified as possible interested parties. There was also substantial discussion regarding how the technology would be used, and what features it would need to have.

A key question was whether the technology would go with the home or the occupants. At some level this is a question of intent. If the technology stays with the home then it would be more intended to provide ongoing actionable feedback to residents that would help them operate their home in a healthier manner through automation and/or alerts. Technology that follows the resident might be more used as a diagnosis tool by medical professionals or others, aiming to associate indoor air quality problems with health outcomes.

One of the major desired outcomes from the workshop was feedback from stakeholders on necessary features for a customizable sensor system to be broadly used. Key features/questions identified in the workshop included:

  • System must allow users to turn to action
  • Sensors must be sufficiently accurate
  • Cost must be affordable
  • Simplicity is key
    • Installation
    • Response
    • Education
  • How much can a hub be expanded (i.e. how many sensors)?
  • How many hubs can be in a home (i.e. how many locations)?
  • Anonymization is important – stakeholders indicated that with common protections they thought residents would be interested in the technology
  • What communication platform(s) could be accommodated (e.g. smart phone, AWS, etc.)
  • Could the system also include voice collection to align reporting of events by residents with measured data?
  • Could the system communicate with other smart devices such as thermostats?
  • What would the expected lifetime of the sensors be and how would that be communicated to users?
  • How would the system deal with obsolescence?
  • Who could users contact for support, and how?

Next steps

The attendees of the workshop broadly expressed further interest in the topic and potential collaborations. It was agreed that a field pilot of the technology, when ready, would be key even if it only included a single sensor. The represented community action agency expressed a willingness to gain access to homes for such a pilot. There was some discussion of potential funding sources such as forward-thinking insurance companies. The group also agreed that getting end users to the table at the design phase would be valuable to get their input up front. It was also made clear that any pilot in a community would require close collaboration with a “trusted partner” who would be present throughout the pilot. This trusted partner could take a number of forms, such as a community center, a place of worship, etc.

Attendees expressed a willingness to respond to a follow-up questionnaire about further involvement with this effort.