Keep calm and breathe on — with air sensors
Welcome to Opole, Poland — an important industrial area where air pollution exceeds tolerable levels 60 days a year. The town’s poor air quality is partially caused by industrial chimneys but another cause is found much closer to home: Outdated coal furnaces are a regular means of household heating in the town.
Mapping the fresh zones, reducing the smoke
Chimneys, traffic and other public sources of pollution all partially cause Opole’s smog zones. To detect these, Opole Municipality partnered with the start-up Airly to install more than 30 air sensors that collect, process and interpret data in real time — with the pollution data made public in an online map. Citizens can plan around it, and public transport even becomes free when the smog is at its worst. City officials have also dismantled more than 480 old coal furnaces and tile stoves, based on the worst smog zones.
Towards a national change of mind
Last spring, Opole started a programme to move towards healthy air through clean energy and heating. Awareness of such developments is rising across Poland, where Airly sensors inform citizens in more than 100 cities — and this winter, Airly plans to release an overview of “the state of air” across Poland, to illuminate the cause and effects of pollution patterns.