The AirPi is an air quality and weather surveillance station made with a Raspberry Pi computer. This project aims to facilitate access to localised meteorological surveillance for the masses.
The AirPi is essentially a Raspberry Pi, a cheap credit card sized computer, hooked up to various sensors with the programming to automatically read them, interpret these readings into meaningful information, and finally upload the data directly onto the internet.
We built our AirPi to measure temperature, relative humidity, air pressure, light levels, smoke, and the concentrations of the harmful gas pollutants carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. Excluding power, internet, and the Pi itself, building the AirPi with all of these sensors cost around £55. It is, however, intended to be used with different combinations of sensors according to what the user is interested in measuring, so it can be very cheap and easy to set up.
The AirPi is also convenient to use because once built, it is very low maintenance and could theoretically run for months on end entirely without need for human intervention. It is still easily portable and can function normally in relatively high and subzero temperatures.
AirPies could be particularly useful in providing air pollution levels for environmentally conscious individuals living in large cities, or weather data for communities of people living in remote, unmonitored regions. We hope that others will be inspired to build their own following our instructions, so that we can create a network of AirPies displaying information from across the globe.
Air pollution, both indoors and outdoors, is a major environmental and health problem affecting everyone in developed and developing countries alike. Indoor and outdoor air pollution is estimated to cause 2 million deaths worldwide per year, and even relatively low concentrations of air pollutants have been related to a wide range of adverse health effects.[WHO]
Unfortunately, governments overwhelmingly provide vague and unlocalised data about the air if at all, with samples generally sparsely taken across large regions despite variance in air quality across small areas,[LAQN] so this isn't very helpful on a personal level.
With AirPi, you can take matters into you own hands and monitor the air quality in your area yourself. As well as the practical applications such as finding trends which can show which times of day the air is cleanest, you and those around you will become more aware of how you are affected by your region's environmental policies and have the knowledge basis upon which to push for change.
Even if you're not fussed about the environment, the AirPi can be an invaluable resource for people living in an area neglected by governmental weather reporting, such as a remote village or hamlet. It can be used to predict the onset of bad weather using signs such as changing air pressure and humidity; due to its ability to automatically upload to the internet, one correctly placed AirPi can provide easily-accessible weather data for the whole community.