Can ‘smart’ birdhouses help improve air quality in Amsterdam?

The TreeWifi birdhouse glows green – and gives passersby free Wi-Fi - when the air quality is high. Photograph: Joris Lam/TreeWifi

The TreeWifi birdhouse glows green – and gives passersby free Wi-Fi – when the air quality is high. Photograph: Joris Lam/TreeWifi

A designer in Amsterdam is proposing to install birdhouses in trees across the city that give passersby free Wi-Fi when the air is clean. The aim is to encourage people to use more sustainable forms of transport like bicycles in order to reduce pollution levels, so the birdhouses glow green when the air is clean enough and reward citizens with free internet connection.

The TreeWifi structures may not actually be able to house birds (yet), but they are fitted with sensors to measure air quality in the city. It comes at a critical time as it was revealed last month that air pollution levels in parts of Amsterdam break EU standards. But how do you best encourage city dwellers to go green?

“Being a designer, I set out to find a simple way to make air pollution visible to citizens in a way that people just understand on an emotional level, rather than having to dig through data and maps,” founder Joris Lam explained to FastCoExist. “In this age of mass surveillance and machines tracking your every move I thought it would be refreshing to design something as simple as a birdhouse,” he says. The initiative is still crowdfunding to get off the ground (and into the trees).

Read this and other interesting stories about cities on The Guardian newspaper site here.

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