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High-Tech Amsterdam Birdhouses Will Provide Free Wi-Fi, Show Air Pollution Levels

Dutch devices, meant to spur civic engagement, offer something to tweet about

A mention of Amsterdam may conjure visions of Vermeer, bikes, and coffee shops. But the idyllic city also has an air pollution problem, with nearly a dozen areas exceeding the European Union’s air pollution limit, according to CityLab. An Amsterdam local believes he’s created a novel way to get the public involved in cleaning the air: bird-house-shaped sensor stations that monitor air quality and offer free Wi-Fi as a reward for a cleaner environment.

Named TreeWiFi, each device detects local pollution levels and responds in kind, turning red if limits are exceeded, and green if the air is clean, a symbol that free WiFi is available. Joris Lam, the creator of TreeWiFi, believes that this simple visual display and Wi-Fi reward can make a difference for the city by incentivizing citizens to take steps to address pollution.

The first prototype is currently being tested outside of Lam’s office, and the TreeWiFi team has plans to place five more units in the neighborhoods with the worst air pollution before expanding further.

Each birdhouse costs about €500 ($562 in the US), and Lam is working to decrease costs as he ramps up production.

Amsterdam's High-Tech Birdhouses Offer Free Wi-Fi in Exchange for Clean Air [City Lab]

See Amsterdam in a Rad New Way: With a Local, on a Bike [Curbed]