Amsterdam is giving free WiFi – but there’s a healthy catch

In Amsterdam, there are little birdhouses that give free WiFi when they detect that the air is clean.

TreeWiFi is a startup that encourages the community to actively participate in lowering air pollution by offering free WiFi when levels are low.

The quality of the Dutch city’s air isn’t measured locally and there aren’t too many initiatives aimed at doing something about air pollution. In 2015, the city earned a D+ in the European City Ranking project for their policies on improving air quality.

The European City Ranking is part of the “Soot-free for the Climate!” Campaign and the Clean Air life+ project, ranking 23 cities, with Amsterdam coming in lower than Zurich, London, Paris and Berlin.

TreeWiFi hopes to help with this issue.

The company wants to put up inexpensive sensors in the form of birdhouses, which are equipped with low-cost sensors that measure pollution in real time. The sensors check the air quality, and create hyperlocal maps to encourage citizens to help improve the quality in their community. 

The information gathered by the birdhouse sensors can also help researchers in their studies of air pollution.

The birdhouses also house WiFi routers and LED lighting that shows the level of air pollution and serves as an indication whether the air quality is good enough to warrant free internet for the public.

TreeWiFi also created a corresponding app that provides information on the pollution in a particular area, as well as tips on how to improve. The company hopes to encourage people living in the city to ride their bikes frequently, use public transportation more often instead of driving their cars, or organise car-free days.

Founded by Joris Lam, TreeWiFi started with funding from the Awesome Foundation Amsterdam earlier this year and is now hoping to raise €6500 for further development and testing of the birdhouses.

The company aims to place their smart birdhouses in every street in the city.

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