Air Pi's for all schools: Raspberry Pi powered Air Quality Monitors

Bristol Air Pi Project


I want Air Pi’s in every school in Bristol

Starting with the 21 secondary schools

Rolling out to all schools and other Bristol City Council buildings in 2015.


Background on the Air Pi


Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard.

They cost only £25

Raspberry Pi want to see them being used by kids all over the world to learn programming.

And its perfect for electronic projects like the Air Pi


Air Pi

The AirPi is a Raspberry Pi shield kit, capable of recording and uploading information about temperature, humidity, air pressure, light levels, UV levels, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and smoke levels.

The code then takes this information and uploads it to a database and the data is then aggregated on a website for everyone to see.

With it’s low cost the AirPi can be very cheap - you can build a basic station for less than £50.

It’s an open source project.

It was developed by three teenagers from the UK (I think it’s really rather cool)


How are we going to do this?

Partnerships with local groups and social enterprises can help implement Bristol Air Pi Project.


Code Club

A nationwide network of volunteer-led after school coding clubs for children aged 9-11


Bristol Hackspace

Bristol Hackspace is a social enterprise which aims to open up technology to anybody who takes an interest in it.


Bristol and Bath Science Park Bristol Robotics Laboratory


Bristol Robotics Laboratory (Bristol Uni. & UWE)


How are we going fund this?

Let’s crowdfund it with

Bristol's technology companies

Bristol's green companies

Bristol’s Universities

Bristol’s Parents

Bristol’s People


The Challenges


Short Term


Sourcing Components

Getting schools buy in- Governors, Parents and Headteachers.

Air Pi Casing - The Air Pi doesn’t currently have a waterproof casing for outdoor use but this can be solved easily with a competition asking hackers and makers of Bristol to design a waterproof casing for the Air Pi which would be fantastic publicity.


Long Term

Keeping young people and schools interested in the Bristol Air Pi project.

Using the Air Pi for prolonged periods - it’s a through hole component kit, so if one part fails (for example, a capacitor or IC) you can just replace it.


Let’s Hack City Hall

Making the AirPi’s


We can have a weekend of young people and volunteers coming to City Hall and hacking Air Pi’s, ready to deploy back into their schools.

NOTE: Hacking isn't always bad

Why the contribution is important


Poor air quality is a major factor in Bristol, with an AirPi we’ll be able to see in real-time the issues affecting us.

Bristol is European Green Capital in 2015, let’s show the World how innovative Bristol can be.  

Big changes to the National curriculum in England and Wales in 2014 include the addition of computing from the age of 5. It’s the right project to bring Science, Geography, IT classes and Bristol’s Healthy Schools programme together.

By investing in young people we’ll give them the skills to become tech makers and creators rather than consumers.

I believe young people are the ones who can inform the wider population of the harm that is being done to our City we can give them the tools and voice to do that..


Using the Data for Good

What can we do with the AirPi readings and data?

  • Young people could use the data they've collected with Air Pi to push the agenda on a green Bristol (websites or in local radios where they'd share the info and advise people how to solve the problem of air pollution).

  • Real-time information could be displayed on the big screen by @Bristol

  • We could use the information gathered to push for the creation of new local regulations about personal transportation

Lets have “Smog alerts!” events or experiments

  • During which young people block or close down a part of the city and not allow cars to enter that area and then share the results of the "boycott" in real time, so people can see how pollution drops, and how much effect it had.

  • In Budapest when they have ‘smog alerts’ when pollution is over a specific % on odd days - 1st, 3rd, 5th of the month and so on - only cars with their licence plates ending with odd numbers are allowed to use the roads in the city.

  • Also they considered that during smog alerts, public transportation should be free. Everyone has a mobile phone young and old, parents and children how about you sign up to a website enter your number when pollution hits a certain % in the city text message alert go out and young people travel for free when they show them to a bus driver. (Text alerts can be done with which was used by Playable City’s - Hello Lamppost)

Involve and crowdsource other ideas from the citizens of Bristol much like George's Ideas lab.

by user612101 on December 11, 2013 at 09:14PM

Current Rating

Average rating: 4.5
Based on: 43 votes


  • Posted by user910887 December 12, 2013 at 17:48

    Such a clever and innovative idea
  • Posted by user470534 December 12, 2013 at 17:57

    I love this idea and it could have all kinds of useful applications.
  • Posted by user403086 December 12, 2013 at 18:59

    Brilliant idea. The Pi was built with the intention of promoting the teaching of basic computer science in schools; it's something the UK lags behind in, and its so important to the future economy. This fits with Green Capital in a way that everyone can engage with. The South West has the highest concentration of High Tech/Digital technologies outside of Sillicon Valley. Bristol needs children in it's schools now to be actively interested in the potential of computers; our cities future prosperity depends on it.
  • Posted by user606158 December 12, 2013 at 20:34

    fantastic idea!
    Plus easy, fast and cheap to implement
    No brainer.
  • Posted by user659777 December 13, 2013 at 09:20

    Amazing idea Joe!
    I'm up for crowdfunding.
  • Posted by user436217 December 13, 2013 at 16:14

    This is not only a great idea to fight pollution, but also a very innovative way to get young people involved to draw attention to the problem and let them experiment and find a solution. After all, it's their future we need to save today. Five stars!
  • Posted by user189519 December 23, 2013 at 15:17

    Brilliant idea and a key part of developing a bottom-up smart city rather than top down control. Five stars.
  • Posted by user251846 December 31, 2013 at 14:43

    Great idea and good experience for IT savvy school pupils. Doubt whether it will do much to improve air quality, but anything that raises awareness obout these issues can't be bad.
  • Posted by user972174 January 06, 2014 at 10:05

    I am the air quality officer for the council.
    I like the idea but feel that I should add some words of caution. I have yet to see one of these devices deliver a plausible reading of local air quality. This also applies to the air quality egg project, which I was involved in. I accept that they are not reference method instruments but they should give broadly believable indications. None of the devices feeding data to the internet do this to my satisfaction. I am happy to be corrected on this, please post a link.
    We have a very good understanding of the air quality problems in Bristol and elsewhere through many years of monitoring. What we need is action to tackle the problem and I am not convinced that more (low quality) monitoring will achieve this. However I accept that it is a good idea to encourage young people to code and experiment with the amazing raspberry Pi.
  • Posted by user648072 January 17, 2014 at 21:01

    Steve Crawshaw is absolutely right that these low-cost devices won't give very accurate measurements of pollution, but they will show trends (eg. peaks of pollution at rush-hour and near busy roads) and they will get kids and their parents to consider the issues around air pollution and take an interest in it, which is a good first step towards tackling it. Aside from that it's an excellent educational project for the kids.
  • Posted by user932309 January 21, 2014 at 13:55

    We always need good ways to engage young people in the real issues which affect them and will affect their lives into the future. This is a great example of that. I'd like to learn from it too!
  • Posted by user128429 March 11, 2014 at 13:16

    The pollution created by traffic should be taken very much more seriously because of its affect on the health of children in particular. The Government finds it easy to ban smoking in cars to protect children but seems oblivious to air pollution.
Log in or register to add comments and rate ideas