TreeWiFi Tackles Pollution
Young tech entrepreneur launches community-centred WiFi solution to Amsterdamâ€™s air pollution problem.
10:49 28 May 2019
Joris Lam has invented TreeWiFi, a community-centred WiFi solution, to cut air pollution in Amsterdam neighbourhoods. The project involves installing digital birdhouses around the city that reward people with free wireless internet whenever they work together for cleaner air.
Lam has led TreeWiFi to partner up with T-Mobile and Vodafone to provide a robust WiFi network. When air pollution drops, the birdhouses would glow green and function like a mobile phone hotspot.
“People were really inspired by the idea that you could do something about the environment yourself, and it helped that it wasn’t as doom and gloom as a lot of talk around environmentalism is,” Lam says. “Even though we are facing extinction… It’s the reality, but it can be paralysing to think about it in that way. TreeWifi seemed to strike a chord with people who wanted a more fun way to engage with environmental issues.”
The birdhouses also provide residents with air quality scores in real time.
“The data exposes some inconvenient truths about cities and how regularly they flout the legal air pollution limit. We saw instances where the council would say they were going to build a new road or install new parking spaces, and a building of people would say ‘Wait a minute, everyone in this block has asthma already’. Authorities can’t dismiss those concerns as easily when locals have the proof that they are objectively right.”