Experimenting for Social Innovation: Community-Level Air Quality Monitoring

This project is implemented by Yayasan Kopernik on behalf of our partner who provided grant funding for this project.

We are developing a community-level air quality monitoring system to provide real-time air quality and health risk information, stimulating people action to reduce the impact of exposure to air pollution.

Project Type

  • Experimentation


Air pollution is a known health risk, but many people do not know the extent to which poor air quality affects their health and when to take precautions to limit their exposure. In Indonesia, it is estimated that poor air quality causes 2.8 million lost work-days, 1.3 million school absences, 9,000 hospitalizations, and 6,500 premature deaths per year. Toxic haze and smog as a result of peatland fires cause breathing and respiratory problems almost every year. The effects of air pollution are felt by all, but it is vulnerable groups such as the elderly, pregnant women and children, and especially people living in poverty that are impacted the most.

Currently, the government, NGOs, and those directly affected by poor air quality cannot easily access accurate, real-time air quality data relevant to their exact location. In addition, current air pollution warning mechanisms are inadequate as information often available after the danger has passed. This makes it difficult for people to know when to use protective measures to limit exposure to pollution. People also sometimes do not perceive air pollution as a problem due to lack of health risk information. Publicly accessible air quality data is needed to help overcome this challenge, and to promote people action to reduce the health impact of air pollution.


Kopernik will develop a real-time monitoring system using a network of low-cost sensors that track air quality, which is integrated with an online data platform and a mechanism to inform people of health risks and appropriate safety measures. We will experiment with validated low-cost sensors and we will customize the communication platform for two scenarios: urban pollution and haze event from forest fires. Data from these sensors will be fed into an online real-time monitoring platform, available to anyone with internet access. When air pollution reaches dangerous levels, health risk information will be communicated through SMS warning alerts or other preferred digital communication means.

Kopernik hypothesizes that this system will allow governments, NGOs and affected individuals to better manage exposure to harmful air pollution. Our system is innovative as the low cost of the sensors and the integrated system will mean we can increase the coverage of air quality monitoring and save the government or NGOs money in implementing such a system. We can also provide a more detailed and relevant air quality map to those in affected areas which encourages citizens to be called to action to advocate for solutions to the issues that cause poor air quality in the first place. Real-time SMS warning alerts will also allow people to become more proactive in protecting their own health and potentially lead to sustained behavior change. 


This project will collect and disseminate reliable, real-time and fit-for-purpose air quality information meeting two objectives. Firstly, for Government Authorities and NGOs, to influence policies, programs, and emergency responses; and secondly; for communities, to encourage proactive behavior to protect one’s health and to advocate for protection solutions.

The end result of this project will be communities that are aware of the threat of air pollution, and proactive in protecting their health. The democratization of air quality data will also empower people, NGOs, and government to work towards safer air management. The network developed in this project will be highly scalable and will be tested in both urban and rural contexts. There is the potential to use such as system across the world, reducing the 7 million deaths caused globally by poor air quality every year.

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Cost funding

This project is funded by the Islamic Development Bank


Total $99,840

This project is implemented by Yayasan Kopernik on behalf of our partner who provided grant funding for this project.