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Adaptive spatial sampling design for environmental field prediction using low-cost sensing technologies

Michael G Chipeta (University of Oxford, Big Data Institute)

The last decade has seen an explosion in data sources available for monitoring and prediction of environmental phenomena. While several inferential methods have been developed to make predictions on the underlying process by combining these data, an optimal sampling design for additional data collection in the presence of multiple heterogeneous sources has not yet been developed. Here, we provide an adaptive spatial design strategy based on a utility function that combines both prediction uncertainty and risk-factor criteria. Prediction uncertainty is obtained through a spatial data fusion approach based on fixed rank kriging that can tackle data with differing spatial supports and signal-to-noise ratios. We focus on the application of low-cost portable sensors, which tend to be relatively noisy, for air pollution monitoring, where data from regulatory stations as well as numeric modelling systems are also available. Although we find that spatial adaptive sampling designs can help to improve predictions and reduce prediction uncertainty, low-cost portable sensors are only likely to be beneficial if they are sufficient in number and quality. Our conclusions are based on a multi-factorial simulation experiment, and on a realistic simulation of pollutants in the Erie and Niagara counties in Western New York.