Announcing the Launch of our Low-Cost Sensor Pilot!

OpenAQ is now the largest open source global repository of low-cost sensor and reference-grade data

OpenAQ Map with Reference-Grade and Low-Cost Sensor Data
  • Now includes low-cost sensor, mobile, and data for extra parameters
  • Explore data through the new Dashboard view on the site
  • Access the full archive of data through the website and API

Since OpenAQ first got started, the focus has been to ingest reference-grade government air quality data. We have come a long way, with the platform hosting 800+ million data points, just shy of 100 countries, and getting ~35 million API requests per month. However, the global air quality landscape has changed in the past few years and we realized there are limitations to only aggregating air quality data produced by governments. As we found in our Global State of Play report last year, only half of the world’s governments produce real-time air quality data, leaving 1.4 billion without access to information about the air they are breathing. There remains large data gaps in many parts of the world, often in the most polluted regions. While we can and will continue to encourage governments to produce and open up air quality data, we cannot wait, while air pollution remains the fourth largest cause of death globally.

Advancements in sensor technology and the subsequent emergence of lower cost sensors have lowered the barrier for entry, encouraging a greater number of participants to produce air quality knowledge. Lower-cost sensors have started to democratize air quality knowledge, enabling everyone from community groups to local governments to citizen scientists to contribute. We want the platform to reflect the diversity of the global air quality landscape, while filling in data gaps and opening up possibilities for better understanding, data-driven action and outcomes.

Given our focus to date on largely reference-grade government data, OpenAQ has been exploring the opportunity to ingest low-cost sensor data for more than a year, incorporating stakeholder feedback from our community along the way. As we previously shared, this led to a close partnership with and funding from the Environmental Defense Fund, as well as technical support from Development Seed to enable OpenAQ to incorporate EDF AQDC data and data from 3 additional LCS partners on our platform as part of a two-phase pilot.

For the pilot, we ingested low-cost sensor data from the Air Quality Data Commons (AQDC) led by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). AQDC is an open-access, open-source data platform that allows people to share and use data from low cost air quality sensors while maintaining necessary data privacy and security. The pilot also includes data from three additional Low-Cost Sensor partner organizations: HabitatMap, PurpleAir and Carnegie Mellon University. These organizations represent diverse sources of low-cost sensor data. The data can be viewed on a new dashboard that provides visualizations for both reference-grade (historically labeled as government data), and newer low cost sensor data across diverse locations and pollutants. This data is also available for download and can be accessed through the OpenAQ API, which has been upgraded to include these new data sources. As a result of this pilot, we are also collecting both mobile and stationary data sources for the first time and making our entire archive of data available!

As this is a pilot, we are using this as an opportunity to seek user feedback, and we look forward to continued work together to make low cost sensor data available on the OpenAQ platform. In the coming months we will be:

  • Continuing to engage in multi-stakeholder collaborations such as the Clean Air Catalyst) that will enable us to ingest and harmonize new varied data sources globally
  • Looking at new opportunities and partners to expand the LCS data available on our platform. If you would be interested in working with us to continue to bring new sources of data to our platform (of any kind), please reach out to Jeremy Taub at jeremy@openaq.org
  • Continue to learn from this pilot and get user feedback on the platform, various use cases, and new potential data and tools. When you use our data, we hope that you will reach out and share our feedback (via this survey)

We're making an open, real-time air quality data hub because we think it'll let people do amazing things. Want to help out? Find us at openaq.org.