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In Amsterdam, Bird House Gives Free Wi-Fi If Air Pollution Level Is Low

Jul 18, 2016 04:47 AM EDT
Amsterdam canals
Photo shows Prinsengracht canal in Amsterdam, taken from the Lekkersluis bridge.
(Photo : Flickr/Creative Commons/Kristoffer Trolle)

Amsterdam has found a new way to do something about their poor air quality.

A set of clean air rankings of European cities in 2015 by the Soot-Free for the Climate campaign listed Amsterdam at the bottom of their list. Ranking D+, the capital of Netherlands has not failed but is stuck down the record.

Reporting about the ranking, Mother Nature Network said Amsterdam scored exceptionally high marks in the promotion of walking and cycling, as well as in transparency and communication policy. However, the city was dragged down by low scores in areas of low emission zones and bans of high emitters.

Milieudefensie, a national environmental organization in Netherlands, said the amount of nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere of Netherlands has not been curbed since January 2015. Valkenburgerstraat in Amsterdam is among the 11 places in the country which has the highest concentration of air pollutants, Dutch News reported.

Milieudefensie told the local Netherland news that if the air quality in the Netherlands does not improve quickly, the country will not meet the European standard this year. This could result to chipping hundreds of millions of euros from their economy.

Wi-Fi for clean air

In an attempt to meet the European standard, Amsterdam has set up high-tech birdhouses called TreeWifi which emits Wi-Fi signals for free in exchange of clean air.

Since transport pollution is the primary cause of the degrading air quality in Amsterdam, TreeWifi aims to encourage people reduce the emissions by using their bicycles and organizing car-free days in exchange for a Wi-Fi incentive.

"Placing TreeWiFi boxes in every street or neighborhood will not only offer researchers a better understanding of the workings of air pollution, but also motivate citizens to get involved in reducing air pollution," the website read.

So how does it work? The TreeWifi has air pollution sensors and Wi-Fi routers. When the air quality improves, a subtle ring of green light signals the current status of the air quality, before it starts emitting Wi-Fi signals.

The project, headed by Amsterdam local Joris Lam, was initially founded though the Awesome Foundation. It is now being funded by Heroes and Friends to enable the company to build more and spread the invention across the cities.

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