Cover: Evaluating Performance of Socio-Technical Systems for Improved Reliability

Evaluating Performance of Socio-Technical Systems for Improved Reliability

Evidence from Sensor and Human Networks

Published Dec 22, 2023

by Jalal Awan

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Air pollution, especially PM2.5 (aerosols < 2.5μm diameter), contributes to 8-10 million early deaths annually. The WHO's 2021 guidelines on PM2.5 exposure show 97.3% of people globally live beyond safe exposure levels, reducing global average life expectancy by 2.2 years. This dissertation investigates the efficacy of IoT-based low-cost sensors in delivering credible, localized pollution data and fostering public environmental advocacy. Three essays structure the exploration:

Essay 1 reviews the evolution and performance of low-cost PM sensors (from 2012-2022) and highlights the efficacy of appropriate calibration models to improve performance.

Essay 2 quantitatively assesses pre- and post-calibration performance of PurpleAir PA-II sensors, using timeseries data from sensors deployed in Santa Monica and Pittsburgh.

Essay 3 delves into the potential role of citizen science in air monitoring, spotlighting challenges and proposing guidelines based on deployment experience and surveying sensor hosts.

Collectively, these essays champion an integrated strategy for air quality monitoring, blending technology, scientific inquiry, and community engagement, with the vision of universally accessible clean air.

Research conducted by

This document was submitted as a dissertation in September 2023 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in Public Policy Analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Ben Preston (chair), Kelly Klima (co-chair), and Jeffrey Geddes (external member).

This publication is part of the RAND dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.