Data is Flowing

We now have two Audio Capture Devices (ACDs) delivering encrypted audio data successfully to our CitySounds server. Interestingly, every now and again one of the ACDs loses some WiFi signal and goes dark for a minute or so — perhaps a delivery truck or other vehicle in the adjacent street is blocking the signal.

A separate server script picks up the audio data files as soon as they arrive and moves them to a separate, inaccessible file partition and re-encrypts them with a wholly separate encryption key.

Into the Trees

Monday 12th March was something of a landmark for us: Simon finally got to install one of our Audio Capture Devices (ACDs) on a tree in the Meadows! He is using a clever combination of bungee cords and bike cables to make sure that they are firmly attached.

BACD securely attached to a branch

A few teething issues in getting the ACDs to talk the server are being ironed out, and we should be able to report back soon on what data is being collected.

In preparation for this public launch, Silje toured notice boards around the Meadows to put up information leaflets. And for those who want to know more, we’ve added a QR code to the poster that points to our Privacy Notice.

One of the Meadows Notice Boards

Site survey of trees on the Meadows

Simon Chapple and I met with Peter Davidson, one of the City of Edinburgh Council’s Park Rangers, to look at the options for installing our Audio Capture Devices (ACDs) in trees across the Meadows. Although there was a fresh wind, we were fortunate that it was a clear, sunny day to carry out our survey.

Simon and Peter sizing up a tree

To start off, Simon gave a brief introduction to his ‘bird box’ enclosures and electronic kit, and explained how they would be attached to the trees using bungee cords, plus a padlocked cable for security.

Screen grab showing 2 bars for the organicity WiFi Access Point
We then did a quick tour of parts of the Meadows where we could see that we were in range of the newly-installed WiFi Access Point, appropriately enough named ‘organicity’, The main challenge was to find trees with branches in the ‘goldilocks’ zone: high enough for the ACDs to be out of harm’s way, but not too high for us to change the battery if necessary. (No, we haven’t yet got the point where we can use solar panels or tap into the power source of lamp posts!) Another constraint is that we need to avoid trees which have been marked as possibly suffering from Dutch Elm Disease, though fortunately that doesn’t seem to be too prevalent on the Meadows.


Two views of the Community Garden supported by Greening our Street and FOMBL

We concluded with the happy feeling that there was a good number of trees that we could use when we are ready to launch the devices in public.

CitySounds Workshops on 19 February — sign up now!

By Benjamin Brock (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In a previous blogpost, we talked about how we were planning to organise a number of workshops as part of the CitySounds project. We’re now ready to launch the first one!

So please join us for our public workshops on how the Internet of Things and other new advances in technology can help us understand biodiversity and how the health of the urban greenspace contributes to the wellbeing of us all.

There will be two workshops, both of which will take place in the University of Edinburgh Informatics Forum on 19 February 2018. The workshops will present two projects — Nature-SmartCities in London and Edinburgh CitySounds — which are using the Internet of Things and bioacoustic monitoring to learn about biodiversity and nature in the urban landscape.

The first workshop is directed toward an academic and professional audience who are interested in research and application around the Internet of Things and data science in relation to biodiversity, health & wellbeing, and nature & greenspace in the city. It will take place 2:00pm–4:00pm.

Sign up here: https://citysoundsiot.eventbrite.co.uk.

The second workshop is a non-technical event, intended for anyone with a general interest in the connections between technology, data and biodiversity in the city. A key part of this workshop will be an interactive session in which we will generate and collect ideas and feedback about specific issues that are of interest to participants. We will also look at how we might use the Internet of Things to learn and communicate better about biodiversity in the city. The workshop will take place 5:30pm–7:45pm.

Sign up here: https://edinburghcitysounds.eventbrite.co.uk.

We would especially encourage people who want to give input/feedback to come to the evening event, but anyone is welcome at either workshop. Complete information is available on the Eventbrite pages.

Hope to see you there!

Follow @EdiLivingLab on Twitter for updates and share our Tweet!

New WiFi Access Point Installed

In order to capture full audio data, we will be using the Raspberry Pi Zero W boards to send data over WiFi, and we have now installed a new WiFi Access Point to receive the data. The Access Point is located on the South West corner of the University Main Library, as indicated by the blue arrow on this map:

Map showing location of WiFi Access Point. Map © OpenStreetMap Contributors

The photo below shows a view of the library from the Meadows, followed by a close-up of the newly installed Access Point (a small grey box).

We are looking forward to testing the reception range of the new device.

First Prototype Device

Device in situ at test site  (plastic box at top)  monitoring bird feeders in normal and icy conditions.

We have prototyped a bio-acoustics listening device based on the Raspberry Pi Zero W and Dodotronic Ultramic. We are about to start 24hr continuous run testing in cold weather in two test sites. So far, the power consumption is pretty much as predicted considering cold weather.

A battery that delivers 30,000mAh should give 7 days continuous operation before needing to be recharged, and with a number of power saving options employed on the Pi, the initial tests have certainly borne this out. The cold weather (we have had several days of sub-zero temperatures and snow/ice) has much reduced the battery capacity, which is not surprising given the characteristics of Lithium-Polymer batteries.

Separately, we have now configured a Libelium Waspmote-based temperature, pressure, humidity sensing device to work within our existing LoRaWAN IoT infrastructure.