Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about housing sensor enhanced social survey

Why is my sensor in a COVID testing box?

We used COVID-19 lateral flow test boxes for this project, as they are a convenient size to house the sensors and allow us to send them as a small parcel. It was also an opportunity to recycle the boxes for another purpose. All the boxes are fully sanitised before we use them. If we scale up the project in the future, we will use 3D printed boxes instead.

How much electricity does my housing sensor box use?

The power of the box is approximately 5 watts, so it consumes 1 kWh per week, the cost of which will be about 20p - 25p.

What data is my housing sensor box collecting?

The box will collect data on Date/time, Air Temperature, Air pressure; Relative humidity; Light intensity; Sound intensity; Air quality (NOx, Volatile organic compound, CO2, particulates).

Are there any privacy issues relating to the housing sensor box?

We designed the study so that your name and address is not ever attached to the data, only a unique key. The file that links the key to your name and address is kept separately from the data on a secure server in the Urban Big Data Centre.

Can I obtain my data after the experiment?

Yes. To obtain your data, please contact us via email (

Could the housing sensor box cause harm while it is on?

The maximum working voltage of the box is 5.1V - equivalent to a mobile phone charger - and is not harmful to humans, but please do not open the sensor box and keep it away from children and pets.

Do I need to connect the sensor to the Internet/Wi-Fi?

No, the box does not need to connect to the Internet/Wi-Fi.

Can I place the sensor upright (vertically)?

No, please position your sensor flat with the sensors on the top of the box.

How do I know if the box is working properly?

The box will run automatically when it connects to the power, and you will see the red light from one of the sensors but don’t worry if this doesn’t appear.

Can I turn the power off for a while?

We would prefer you didn’t. This survey needs to collect data for a full seven days, so please do not turn off the power. If it becomes necessary to move the box, just unplug and plug in again as close to the original position as possible and as quickly as you can.

What should I do if the power goes off suddenly?

When power is restored, the box will automatically restart and start collecting data again. No other operation is required.

What kind of mail service should I use?

Inside the box is a franked, postage-paid, sticky label. Please put this on the box and take it to your local post office for sending back to us. The post office will provide you with a receipt of postage. The postage is pre-paid by us, so you should not need to pay. If there is a problem with this, please let us know by email (

Other questions?

The above FAQs attempt to cover many of the basics relating to the housing sensor project. Feel free to email us ( as we will be happy to answer any other questions you may have on an individual basis.