Urban air quality modeling using low-cost sensor network and data assimilation in the aburrá valley, colombia

Santiago Lopez Restrepo, Andrés Yarce , Nicolás Pinel , O.L. Quintero , Arjo Segers, A.W. Heemink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


The use of low air quality networks has been increasing in recent years to study urban pollution dynamics. Here we show the evaluation of the operational Aburrá Valley’s low-cost network against the official monitoring network. The results show that the PM2.5 low-cost measurements are very close to those observed by the official network. Additionally, the low-cost allows a higher spatial representation of the concentrations across the valley. We integrate low-cost observations with the chemical transport model Long Term Ozone Simulation-European Operational Smog (LOTOS-EUROS) using data assimilation. Two different configurations of the low-cost network were assimilated: using the whole low-cost network (255 sensors), and a high-quality selection using just the sensors with a correlation factor greater than 0.8 with respect to the official network (115 sensors). The official stations were also assimilated to compare the more dense low-cost network’s impact on the model performance. Both simulations assimilating the low-cost model outperform the model without assimilation and assimilating the official network. The capability to issue warnings for pollution events is also improved by assimilating the low-cost network with respect to the other simulations. Finally, the simulation using the high-quality configuration has lower error values than using the complete low-cost network, showing that it is essential to consider the quality and location and not just the total number of sensors. Our results suggest that with the current advance in low-cost sensors, it is possible to improve model performance with low-cost network data assimilation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number91
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Chemistry transport model
  • Citizen scientists
  • Data assimilation
  • Low-cost network
  • Particulate matter


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