Innovation That Matters

In Amsterdam, clean air gets free wifi from trees


TreeWiFi's smart birdhouses measure air quality in real-time, and provide free wifi when pollution levels drop.

Fresh, clean air is one of the quickly diminishing commodities most city dwellers crave on a daily basis, and we have seen air purifying billboards and navigation apps help urbanites breathe better. Based in Amsterdam, TreeWiFi’s smart birdhouses let residents know about the air quality of their neighborhood, and if it is clean enough, they get free wifi.

Using nitrogen dioxide (NO2) sensors to measure the amount of combustion particles in the air, the birdhouses light up with LED lights to show real-time levels of pollution. When the lights go green, the air quality has improved, and the network makes the free wifi available. As part of the free connection, TreeWiFi sends users tips on ways to improve local air quality. Right now, the company is focusing on the amount of NO2 in the air, as the majority of it comes from smoke and exhaust fumes — two things that residents can easily affect.

TreeWiFi plans to make the data they collect available to researchers and several government departments have already expressed interest in the project due to its scope. Should a birdhouse be installed on every street in the city, a vast quantity of timely air pollution data will be available for analysis. The startup is currently fundraising for additional industrial design assistance and to get five more birdhouses out on the streets.


How could local sustainability projects be scaled for regional or national use?



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