|Mapping Sunlight Exposure using Mobile Phones|
| Posted on 19/02/2014 - 20:21|
Prolonged under- or over-exposure to sunlight can cause chronic diseases, which can significantly lower economic effectiveness and cause physical and mental distress. This project aims to use mobile phones to map individual sunlight exposure.
For the first time in human history, most people live in cities. Cities are partly defined by a high building concentration and a human lifestyle that is predominantly spent indoors or in the shadow of buildings. As a result, one area of concern is the urban dweller's lack of exposure to sunlight and the wide range of associated health problems. The large-scale and chronic nature of the health problems can lead to a time bomb in the national health service and cause irreversible future damage to the economy. It is well established that UV exposure plays a key role in the production of vitamin D, which is related to a wide range of health effects. Thus far, doctors have no evidence base which allows them to advise their patients and the general population about sun exposure.
The aim of this proposal is to test the feasibility of modelling the precise level of UV sunlight intensity a citizen is exposed to. Given the mobility of citizens and the growing penetration of advanced mobile-phones, the proposal aims to develop a distributable smartphone application that can accurately estimate the level of UV exposure.
The project spans 2 months, for which we will use the money to validate a proof-of-concept idea on using large-scale geographical data to model sunlight intensity in urban terrains. The money will be broken down to pay for a research assistant for 2 months and to buy relevant geographic data, UV meters, and mobile phone hardware for mapping purposes. It will also include local field trips for benchmarking purposes.
Target group and social impact
Our goal for this project is to develop a ubiquitous tool that can inform the user of the amount of daily sunlight exposure. The long-term vision is that the UV exposure data can better inform medical research and clinical practices, as well as positively influence citizen behaviour. On a daily level, the tool can induce small life-style changes (i.e., more outdoor activity time). On an annual level, the tool can recommend policy changes by examining aggregated demographic data. The outcome of the proposed project is a game-changing solution that not only can revolutionize related medical studies, but also induce positive behaviour change amongst the general public.
Competences of the applicant
The investigator is an assistant professor in the school of engineering. Previously he obtained his MEng, MA, and PhD degrees from the University of Cambridge in Engineering and Computer Science. This specific project will utilise his experience in modelling electromagnetic wave propagation in cities. He has published over 40 peer-reviewed papers in this area.
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