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Self-Monitored Gardens

The Greener Cities project, winner of the “Smart Cities, Smart Climate” challenge, proposes a way in which urban gardeners can poses the ability to know the state of their plants as they change.

The class challenge was part of the larger International Space Apps Challenge, organized by NASA. It was designed to encourage public participation in the discovery of environmental connections with data-sets, such as traffic accidents; doing so using existing data, such as public health records.

Greener Cities achieves this in three steps. First, the project introduces garden monitors, which will serve as low-cost sensors for urban planters. Secondly, the project collects local data and normalizes it so that it may be easily assessed by researchers. And finally, Greener Cities provides a foundation to educate kids about the environment and how it interacts locally.

The garden sensors are installed, or planted, alongside flora in box gardens and other small green spaces. Utilizing information of soil conditions and air quality, the sensor reveals the state of your plants. So, if ever curious about the ripeness of your strawberries or wish to know the optimal harvest time for your herbs, you can check the monitor’s web dashboard. It will also inform you if when plants need to be watered, or if they have received a little too much care.

This information goes on further to serve as an indicator of local environmental trends, as each home’s individual data-set merges with others to constellate a larger network of environmental correlations within an entire city. This would be especially useful for urban air monitoring.

Moving along to the final step of the project, the garden monitors will be possible for children to construct. In addition, kids will learn how to program with the monitors, helping them to develop their technological skills and gain a better understanding of ecology.

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