CITIES’ Special Projects (Ongoing)

CITIESair – Air Quality Index at NYUAD

Last updated:




What is CITIESair?

CITIESair is a network of air quality sensors that monitors the concentration of particulate matter PM2.5 around NYU Abu Dhabi campus.

The sensors were installed in hopes of raising the awareness among the NYU Abu Dhabi community towards more sustainable and healthy-living lifestyles.

The isolated location of NYUAD campus gives us a perceived sense of comfort and cleanliness: we are not constantly surrounded by polluting vehicles or smoke-churning factories. The contemporary issue of air pollution thus gets selectively compartmentalized. It is hard to pay attention to the air we breathe in our daily lives: it is not a priority. Little do many of us know, air pollution from traffic, industries, oil refineries, and sandstorms in other parts of the UAE and in neighboring countries can traverse and disperse all over the region, regardless of proximity to the emission source. 

PM2.5 is considered one of the most hazardous air pollutants because it can penetrate our airways and lodge into our lungs and internal organs [1], causing respiratory and cardiovascular diseases [2]. CITIESair adopts the Air Quality Index (AQI) by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) to convert raw PM2.5 measurements into categories and color coding schemes.

Where are the sensors located?

The network comprises of 3 sensors:

  • One (1) outdoors in between A1 and A2 buildings
  • One (1) inside Campus Center (C2), representing the typical indoor air quality on campus with few to no emission source
  • One (1) inside East Dining Hall (D2), representing indoor spaces with emission sources (cooking, grilling…)

This air quality monitoring network was part of a Capstone project by Vince Nguyen (NYUAD CITIES Post-Graduate Research Fellow AY21-22) at NYU Abu Dhabi in spring 2021. The project is currently supported and expanded by the Center for Interacting Urban Networks (CITIES) at NYU Abu Dhabi.


[1] Li, Donghai, et al. “Fluorescent Reconstitution on Deposition of PM 2.5 in Lung and Extrapulmonary Organs.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 116, no. 7, 2019, pp. 2488–93,

[2] Xing, Yu-Fei et al. “The impact of PM2.5 on the human respiratory system.” Journal of thoracic disease vol. 8,1 (2016): E69-74. doi:10.3978/j.issn.2072-1439.2016.01.19