This Amsterdam-based startup has developed a low-cost TreeWiFi device, built within a special birdhouse with sensors that measure the surrounding air quality. This data is then collected and sent to a server for further analysis. After processing, the air quality data is made public for everyone to see, and the device displays the pollution level through an LED status light. When the device detects an improved air quality in that particular area, the LED light turns green, which communicates the fact that the birdhouse can now share WiFi internet connection. Furthermore, users that connect to the network get relevant tips & tricks on how to improve air quality locally before going online.
It aims to provide relevant stakeholders with a better understanding of the workings of air pollution. Through this device, air quality management can become more inclusive of local citizens, establishing a motivation to create effective change through their own actions.
TreeWiFi hopes to contribute a solution which fulfills the following goals:
- Make air pollution visible to city residents
- Measure on a hyper local scale
- Make data visible and relevant to citizens
- Involve local communities and neighbourhoods
- Reward positive change and provide tools to negotiate with the government
2. Sustainability Problem
This technology aims to provide an incentive system for residents to take control and claim ownership over their local air quality. By offering both the incentive of free WiFi and the visualization of positive change, the technology can provide the motivation for people to use public transportation and their bikes more often by rewarding when the air quality improves in their street. Furthermore, it helps solve the disconnect between usual city-level air quality and specific geographic intricacies. It can allow patterns to be observed and data to be collected on a more granular level.
Issues: Air Pollution, Health, Citizen Science, Incentives
- Local participants and residents
- Air quality researchers
- Environmental NGOs
- Local area authorities
- Investors and start-up community
4. Implementation Process
The startup was able to kickstart the project with funding from Awesome Foundation Amsterdam in March 2016. They are now in the process of crowdfunding through sites such as Heroes and Friends, with the aim of raising €6 500 to build and test a prototype. TreeWiFi are using the summer for product development, and are looking to begin sales in January 2017.
The startup is also working with local government and municipalities to ensure that the data collected is as valuable as possible. While this initial period is mainly private sector driven, the public sector could have a hand in rolling out this technology on a larger city-scale, provided that the technology proves itself effective during its test period.
- TreeWiFi: http://treewifi.org/.
- Inhabitat, Smart birdhouses called TreeWiFi give free WiFi when air quality improves: http://inhabitat.com/smart-birdhouses-called-treewifi-give-free-wifi-when-the-air-quality-improves/.
- Heroes and Friends – TreeWiFi Profile: http://www.heroesandfriends.com/projects/treewifi.
- Life Beyond Numbers, TreeWiFi – A Startup That Gives Free WiFi to Solve A Bigger Problem of Air Pollution: http://lifebeyondnumbers.com/treewifi-free-wifi/.