At the core of our partnership in 2016 was sensor specialist Alphasense, with whom we developed a standard digital front end for their electrochemical sensors. A gap in the market was identified for an electronic interface between their sensors and industry-standard microcontrollers, including Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone.
This work resulted in a product capable of sampling gas concentrations to within +/- 5 parts per billion (ppb). Subsequent development of secure, real-time data retrieval and storage allows actionable environmental data reporting from anywhere in the world.
Historically South Coast Science has supplied products to research and academic organisations, such as the United Nations and Universities around the world. As a result of this work our background has been in science more than commercial markets.
We now present solutions stemming from this foundation in academic rigour and scientific discovery. Because we have developed all of our products using an open-source platform, data can now be validated by our customers and easily integrated into their own systems.
MCERTS certified monitors
In 2022 South Coast Science was awarded MCERTS certification for particulate measurement for the Praxis/Urban. This involved gathering and comparing data output from reference instruments and collocated Praxis/Urban monitors.
MCERTS is the Environment Agency’s Monitoring Certification Scheme for equipment, personnel and organisations and is built around International and European standards. It promotes public confidence in monitoring data, equipment and personnel and provides a framework for choosing monitoring equipment and services that meet the Environment Agency’s specifications.
As yet, this industry has no mandatory product testing for either current manufacturers or new entrants. MCERTS provides a way to achieve independent approval of products in the UK and gives assurance of data quality and an audited manufacturing process.
Separating noise from environmental data
South Coast Science are early adopters of collocation with reference devices, in order to better understand and correct for the well-known temperature and humidity effects on electrochemical sensors.
This work has been escalated through the use of machine learning techniques. PM sensor correction is now finished and we anticipate completing gas sensor correction during 2022.
Automated error correction in real-time
Using validated data interpretation algorithms, error correction is performed on the device and in real-time.
Testing with co-located reference instruments shows a high degree of accuracy.
Users have access to both raw and corrected data and can test against their own error correction methods to check the validity of the model.
Working with the UNIn 2017 the company collaborated with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to develop the Praxis/Urban. This was a long-range, scientifically motivated, evaluation programme with stringent field trials in hostile environments and testing multiple use cases. As a result of this work we now have deployments throughout Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal, and Uganda.
For the UN, ‘field-ready’ meant more than simply a device that operates reliably in a specific environment. It required:
Environment: the device must work in all intended operating environments and climates
Infrastructure: the system and software must allow for uninterrupted data recording in the event of power cuts or loss of mobile signal and worldwide cellular communication of that data
People: the device must be operable by (often non-technical) people in the field available to maintain it