The Sensors in a Shoebox project focuses on empowering Detroit youth with the tools and methods necessary to observe and analyze the physical, social, and natural systems that affect their communities for improved community-based decision making. Through this work, youth are positioned as agents of change for their city.
Number of students in the Detroit public school system (2018)
Of Detroit neighborhoods that saw increased home values in 2018
Number of Michigan residents, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, who live in areas with unacceptable smog levels (2018)
The project creates a novel, ultra-low power wireless sensor architecture called Urbano to serve as a versatile foundation for an affordable and ruggedized sensor kit. This kit consists of solar-powered wireless sensors with cellular Internet connectivity that can be distributed to communities to sense environmental parameters, vibrations, and motion, among other parameters. Data is transmitted from community-deployed sensor kits to the cloud where sensor data is stored and managed. The community directly accesses their data from a web portal offering a suite of user-friendly analytical tools that citizens could use to extract community-relevant information from raw sensor data.
Urbano consists of an ultra-low power microcontroller, flexible sensing interface that is compatible with analog and digital sensing transducers, has external SRAM for storage and on-chip data processing, and uses a wireless 4G cellular modem. The platform is designed to allow all urban stakeholders easy access to data collection capabilities but does emphasize use by community members. First, the cellular modem ensures stakeholders using the platform do not require access to tethered communication media (e.g., fiber network). Second, its low power design allows it to be operated from solar panels without a need to access a wired power source (e.g., power provided by street furniture). By eradicating the need for wired connections, the device allows stakeholders to deploy more freely and minimizes their dependencies on other parties (e.g., gaining permission to access power and communications at a lamppost). Data collected by Urbano is pushed to a cloud database where data is stored, curated and analyzed. Visualization tools are used to view the data.
The Urbano node is coupled with a variety of sensing transducers into a water-tight enclosure called a Sensors in a Shoebox kit and deployed by community members in Detroit. The Shoebox kit includes air quality sensors (measuring O3, SO2, NO2, and PM), passive IR sensors (measuring pedestrians) and GPS receivers (to measure kit location). Figure 3 shows air quality and pedestrian counting Shoebox kits fully assembled. These kits have been deployed by youth in Southwest Detroit where poor air quality is known to be a leading cause of high rates of asthma among young community members.
To achieve the goal of conceiving of Detroit as a “smart and connected” city, the researchers understand the need to support citizens, specifically youth, in developing the skills necessary to engage with the Shoebox kit meaningfully. In its pilot phase, the educational team worked with community youth around urban sensing research. Through afterschool programming, youth defined and delimited their own research problems that could be studied by sensors technology within the City of Detroit. Several problem ideas were generated by youth including water quality, air quality, space usage, walkability, and noise levels of their city, informing sensor selection. The team supported youth in 1) building qualitative instruments to compliment and expand sensor data collection; 2) collecting sensor and social science data; and 3) analyzing said data to support claim-making. Through this work, youth are positioned as agents of change for their city. The educational team is continuing to explore the impact of this in the context of teaching and learning.
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Donald Malloure Department Chair, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Jerome P. Lynch, Ph.D. has been a member of the faculty at the University of Michigan since 2003. He was formerly the Donald Malloure Department Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He was formerly a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. In addition to his work as the Director of the U-M Urban Collaboratory Initiative, he is also the Director of the Laboratory for Intelligent Systems Technology (LIST). Dr. Lynch is now with Duke University.
Dr. Lynch’s work focuses on the boundary between traditional civil engineering and related engineering disciplines (such as electrical engineering, computing science, and material science), converting infrastructure systems into more intelligent and reactive systems through the integration of sensing, computing, and actuation technologies. These cyber-physcial systems (CPS) greatly enhance performance while rendering them more resilient against natural and man-made hazards.
Dr. Lynch completed his graduate studies at Stanford University where he received his Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2002, M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 1998, and M.S. in Electrical Engineering in 2003. Prior to attending Stanford, Dr. Lynch received his B.E. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the Cooper Union in New York City. He has co-authored one book and over 200 articles in peer reviewed journal and conferences. Dr. Lynch has been awarded the 2005 ONR Young Investigator Award, 2009 NSF CAREER Award, 2009 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), 2012 ASCE EMI Leonardo da Vinci Award and 2014 ASCE Huber Award.
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Dean, School of Education
George Herbert Mead Collegiate Professor of Education
Arthur F. Thurnau Professor
Elizabeth Birr Moje is dean, George Herbert Mead Collegiate Professor of Education, and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Literacy, Language, and Culture in the School of Education. Moje teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in secondary and adolescent literacy, cultural theory, and research methods and was awarded the Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prize with colleague, Bob Bain, in 2010. A former high school history and biology teacher, Moje’s research examines young people’s navigations of culture, identity, and literacy learning in and out of school in Detroit, Michigan. Moje has published 5 books and numerous articles in journals such as Science, Harvard Educational Review, Teachers College Record, Reading Research Quarterly, Journal of Literacy Research, Review of Education Research, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Science Education, International Journal of Science Education, Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, and the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education. Her research projects have been or are currently funded by the National Institutes of Health/NICHD, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, National Science Foundation, William T. Grant Foundation, Spencer Foundation, International Reading Association, and the National Academy of Education. Moje chairs the William T. Grant Foundation Scholar Selection Committee and is a member of the National Academy of Education.