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Technology20 July 2016

Free WiFi in exchange for clean air in the city.

Social trend

How much in common have clean air in cities with free Wi-Fi in public places? Theoretically not much, but soon, thanks to a Dutch startup NGO Tree WiFi, it can be changed. Its creators want to motivate people to a more eco-conscious living, reduce emissions of pollutants and care more about clean air in the local environment – in space, in which they exist every day.

To develop an environmentally responsible approach and encourage the residents of Amsterdam (city pilot project) to change their habits through more frequent movement of the bike, use public transport, transfer into electric cars, startup intends to make … free WiFi. Unusually, because through installations that look like bird houses which are arranged on the trees in the most frequented areas of the city. But this is only part of the project, because apart from the typical aesthetic functions they also fulfill the role of devices that aggregate data as well as education and information platforms for residents.


Each house, thanks to the sensors placed inside, constantly monitors and collects information about air quality in the city. Thanks to them in real-time the map of pure and polluted areas in Amsterdam is made. Moreover, when the air in a given place complies with the relevant standards, the roof of the bird house lights up in green, which means that a certain hotspot (maybe a birdspot sounds better in this case?) provides a free WiFi signal. When the air quality exceeds the standards, LEDs are extinguished and the Internet signal disappears.

A user who wants to connect to a cottage on the screen of his phone will see a message showing the level of pollution in the given area and a number of tips on how he, himself, can affect the quality of the air each day and thus also the availability of WiFi in his surroundings.

Tree Wifi Amsterdam

Ultimately, Amsterdam is going to have 500 houses of this type, it is also planned to implement the project in other European cities. Considering the reports on the state of the air in Poland, the stewards of the cities infamously listed as the most polluted, should think about introducing a similar solution at home, at least within the educational activities of its inhabitants.

Despite its apparent simplicity, Tree Wifi is one of the most interesting environmental projects supported by technology, that I have recently noticed. There are 3 reasons why: it encourages people to act for the benefit of the local community (a very important and strong trend), it has the potential for global development and long-term education of residents, regardless of place of its implementation, and provides participants with instant gratification (which is only slightly postponed here) in the form of WiFi, when the residents take care of the air they breathe. There is also the fourth reason: tree houses, providing free internet, glowing green LEDs – how cool is that?

It is worth noting that the developers of the project in subsequent phases of development would like to transplant a similar mechanism to the areas of recycling waste and saving water. Tree WiFi is a small startup with an interesting idea, which is still looking for financing through crowdfunding campaign. For the first stage of the project 6500 euro is needed, so that even the smallest donation makes a difference.

Tree Wifi Amsterdam


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