Environmental monitoring company SI Analytics continues being the regional distributor of the AQMesh pod system – a small sensor-based unit for air quality monitoring.

The AQMesh was initially developed in the UK in conjunction with Cambridge University and it has been available globally since 2012. SI Analytics director Mark Rowand says the company was fortunate to be one of the initial organisations tasked with testing the system before it was officially launched in the market.

“The AQMesh came into being to work in conjunction with accredited monitoring stations. In essence, it is a complete monitoring station which can fit into your hand.

“Before it became commercially viable, it went through rigorous tests and the added advantage is that we had the backing of all the Cambridge scientists. So, it is not a replacement for the bigger accredited monitoring stations – it is there to work in conjunction with them,” says Rowand.

Initially, the AQMesh system only measured sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, ozone and carbon monoxide gases but has since progressed to include the measuring of particulate matter (PM1, PM2.5 and PM10), hydrogen sulphide and volatile organic carbons, as well as environmental conditions such as atmospheric pressure, relative humidity and temperature.

The system is powered by either lithium batteries – which can last for up to six months – or solar energy. Each system is small enough to be easily mounted to a post, wall or enclosure.

Further, Rowand states that the AQMesh is vital for air quality as it fills in all the missing gaps in the air monitoring networks, and it adds to the ‘bigger picture’.

“Within your network of monitoring stations, it can show you which is the least polluted area so that you can assess whether it is safe for people – especially kids – to be around. Obviously, it changes with the weather and other contributing factors, but the big stations due to cost cannot compete with that very vital aspect.”

The other benefits of the AQMesh is the real-time monitoring and the fact that it makes use of Sim-based technology. This convenience aids SI Analytics’ clients, the majority of whom are in sub-Saharan Africa – mainly in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique – as they are part of the system’s global network.

Moreover, the company looks forward to improving the AQMesh system to include other pollutant variables, new sensor development as well as the data processing and management, which is continually improving.