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MIT Technology Review

Sensor City

Cambridge, MA will soon have 100 wireless sensors on telephone poles.

One hundred telephone poles in Cambridge, MA, will soon host wireless sensors that will allow researchers to track weather more precisely, discover when and where pollution peaks, and test new technologies that could lead to better Wi-Fi.

A sensor node sits on a rooftop at BBN Technologies.

Anyone will be able to run experiments using the sensor network, says Matt Welsh, a professor of computer science at Harvard University, who is one of the project’s lead investigators. So far, there are five nodes apiece on the campuses of ­Harvard and BBN Technologies, which is partnering with Harvard on the project.

The first batch of weather and pollution sensors could help doctors advise asthma patients to stay away from certain areas at certain times. Eventually, motion sensors could measure traffic flow or even monitor parking spaces. The network could also be modified to monitor public transportation, helping people find out exactly when the next bus is coming. Kate Greene