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 an integrated air quality monitoring sensor network to provide detailed real-time air quality information and SMS health alerts, reducing the health impacts of exposure to harmful 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. 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 quality warning systems are inadequate as notifications often arrive after the danger has passed. This makes it difficult for people to know when to use protective measures to limit exposure to pollution. Publicly accessible air quality data is needed to help overcome this challenge, and immediate, real-time notifications to mobile phones will reduce the health impact of air pollution.


Kopernik will develop a real-time monitoring system using low-cost sensors that track air pollution, which are integrated with an online platform that maps hotspots and informs people of risks and appropriate safety measures and when to take such measures. We will experiment with ready-to-go low cost sensors. If none of these current sensors meet the requirements, we will customise the specifications to meet our needs. Data from these sensors will be fed into an online platform, available to anyone with internet access. The data will also be monitored in real-time, and SMS warning alerts will be triggered and sent to affected populations when air pollution reaches dangerous levels.

Kopernik hypothesise that this system will allow governments, NGOs and effected 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 behaviour 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 behaviour 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 democratisation 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.