The Swiss Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss, has recently completed the successful proof-of-concept phase for the new Swiss automatic pollen monitoring network, which is being developed in collaboration with Swisens.
The Swisens Polenowhich is based on holographic image recognition, enables the counting and identification of bioaerosols in real time. "The focus of the proof-of-concept was not only on pollen measurement, but also on data management and data security, in order to ensure seamless integration into MeteoSwiss' surface observation networks," reveals Dr. Benoît Crouzy, scientist and project manager for the automatic Swiss pollen monitoring network at MeteoSwiss.
During the experiment, three Swisens Poleno systems were operated in parallel outdoors and compared with two Hirst-type volumetric pollen samplers. The Hirst type pollen trap is the current reference for operational pollen measurements (European standard) and is based on manual counting of pollen by human operators using microscopes. "In addition to this validation of the operational set-up, the automatic pollen monitors were equipped with an optical reference particle counter in a controlled environment at Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS) compared. The measurements showed good comparability with both manual pollen counts and the absolute particle number reference. The operation of the system also proved to be stable and reproducible.
The first stations will be operational at the beginning of the 2021 pollen season, and the complete network, consisting of 20 systems distributed throughout Switzerland, will be ready for operation in 2022. "With the new automatic systems, the airborne pollen concentrations will be available just a few minutes after measurement. This in turn will make it possible to produce significantly improved pollen forecasts and information systems that will be of great benefit to allergy sufferers, their doctors and research. "In addition, thanks to these latest technological developments, which enable a large number of particles to be counted very quickly, it is now possible to better understand the complex interaction between atmospheric and biological processes," Crouzy added.
According to Swisens and MeteoSwiss, the possibilities of Swisens Poleno can be further exploited. The two organisations intend to develop an extension of the operational recognition algorithms by training the system on fungal spores that also cause allergies or plant diseases.
This article was written for the September 2020 issue of MTI Magazine. You can find the complete and original article here.