Roskilde: When the dust rises, a new meter can help reduce irritation

Monday 04 Jul 16
Two students have developed a dust meter for Roskilde Festival; their invention may make it easier to combat the dust problem.

Roskilde Festival is notorious for the huge clouds of dust that arise when the weather is fine. The small clouds whipped up by each festival-goer combine to form huge banks of dust that subsequently spread over large areas of Zealand. In fact, clouds of dust from Roskilde have even been recorded as far away as Jutland and the island of Samsø, although in heavily diluted form.

Tobias Brasch, who is studying Computer Science and Engineering, and Charlotte Petersen, who is following the Design and Innovation programme, set out to examine the dust to establish whether it would be possible to reduce the level of irritation. They have set up small measuring stations at various locations in the camping area. Sensors in these stations measure the level of dust particles in the air and register air humidity, the amount of sunlight, temperature and noise level.

“Up until now, the dust level at the festival has been relatively low and fairly stable. The reason for this is that air humidity has been high during the warm-up days,” explains Tobias Brasch.

“It’s also because most people are still sitting around in the camping area,” adds Charlotte Petersen. “It’s only when the music starts that people begin to wander around the site—and that’s when we start to experience problems with dust. Unless it’s raining, of course ...”

"As we understand it, the festival organizers water the ground more-or-less on gut feeling."
Charlotte Petersen.

Efficient watering
The long-term objective of the project is to provide Roskilde Festival with snapshot images and an estimate of the need to water the ground. The forecast can call the attention of the festival management to areas at risk of developing dust issues so that watering trucks can be sent out before the dust starts to irritate the festival-goers. Snapshot images will also enable the festival supervisors to monitor the entire site in real time to check where is it most necessary to water the soil. Finally, an accurate estimate of the need to water can help prevent the trucks watering too much or too little.

“As we understand it, the festival organizers water the ground more-or-less on gut feeling. Of course, they think about what they are doing, and they have years of experience, so they have a fair idea about where the problem areas are. However, if it proves possible to automate the estimates a little more, I think we can save both time and resources,” says Charlotte Petersen.

Data basis is the first step
This year, the main emphasis of the project is to set up the data basis that can then be used to develop a system for implementing at next year’s festival. According to Charlotte Petersen, similar technology can also be used in many other contexts:

“In urban areas, for example, it may be relevant to know the extent to which citizens are affected by dust and noise from construction sites and the like. The most usual approach today is to take random readings and then try to extrapolate a general overview from them. However, it can be difficult to do something about noise issues, if the only basis you have to work on is that ‘it’s too loud’.This system can provide a stream of extremely precise data, making it much easier to localize the problems and ensure they are dealt with in the best possible manner.”

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