In October 2016, just a few weeks after the start-up Airly was officially registered, a few students from the University of Science and Technology in Krakow decided to bring their prototype to life after winning the contest during the Smogathon event. Their invention was an outdoor air quality sensor that could measure air pollution in real time – concentration of harmful particulates PM2.5 and PM10. It could also register other air parameters, such as temperature, humidity, or atmospheric pressure. It was no coincidence that the project was started in Krakow – this city is considered to be the most polluted in Poland – and Poland is one of the most polluted countries in Europe!
Krakow, a city with an area of 327 km2 and a population of 760,000, only has 6 official air quality stations. Airly’s founders determined that this is insufficient for reliable air quality monitoring, and the only way to be able to spot the pain points and its sources is to develop a dense network of sensors. Within a few weeks, Airly ran a social campaign called #KrakowOddycha (Krakow Breathes) with a contest: Krakow’s inhabitants could win a sensor, have it installed behind their windows and then see real-time metrics on the online platform.
The campaign successfully spread in local and national media and even gained the support of well-known people from Krakow, e.g. actor Marek Kondrat, singer and composer Zbigniew Wodecki, satirical group Formacja Chatelet, or the cook and food critic Robert Makłowicz. As a result of the campaign, close to 100 sensors located throughout the city started gathering air quality data in real time, and sending it to the online platform at airly.eu/map and the mobile app.
Online platform Airly for air quality monitoring
After the campaign targeted at Krakow was over, other Polish cities showed significant interest in also having such a network of sensors. Airly decided to run a national–scale project called #PolskaOddycha (Poland Breathes). By now, some of these cities have already invested in and bought network of sensors. Airly is also open to collaboration with cities in other countries.
The air is an invisible part of our everyday life. We need it to live. However, the air we breathe slowly but surely affects our health, and the health of our loved ones. When we live consciously, we can have a real, positive impact on our environment and we can create a more productive future. Where to start? By checking the conditions around you. In an era of smart cities and tech inventions, we have the opportunity the improve our quality of life. Airly sensor networks gather insights about our cities. It’s about far more than just data, though: networks are meant to open eyes and raise awareness, thus helping to explore and improve the environment in a new way.
Airly was established by engineers with a shared vision and passion for new technologies. Its founding team of physicists and mechatronic technicians was then joined by software developers and marketing specialists. The data collected with Airly sensors allows us to provide advanced air quality analytics and AI-based predictive models. We deliver real-time, reliable and precise information about air quality in a Platform as a Service model. Such information can highlight areas in need of improvement to guarantee a safe environment for a city’s inhabitants, which cannot be achieved by relying on just a few, expensive official air quality stations.