India Open Environment Data Project

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I) Introduction

The "India Open Environment Data Project" is an open-data project currently undertaken by IODA. The project is aimed towards driving an active community participation for better air-quality management in Delhi through open access to data on multiple important parameters of the environment accumulated through custom designed environment monitoring devices installed in different locations across Delhi. The data retrieved from these devices is being analysed and organized in a standardized, visualized format to make it understandable to any individual and is being made available to the users via an open-source platform.

II) History of the Project

The "India Open Environment Data Project" took shape after the experience of participating in the MIT Kumbhathon event at Nashik in June 2015. The project pursued during that event was focused on assessing the environmental parameters of Nashik city during the time of Kumbh Mela, where a sudden spike in the population by 10x times its usual rate led to drastic changes in the environmental parameters. The parameters of the environment were assessed through the use of custom designed open source hardware boxes with various sensors to make real-time measurements of the air-quality. These boxes were deployed in different parts of the city and the data collected through them was organized in a standard format and made accessible to the people via open-source. The initial results received from this pilot project were quite satisfactory and sufficient enough to convince anyone that the project had a long-run potential within the society. The positive feedback received from this micro-based pilot exercise in Nashik provided enough encouragement to adopt the similar approach in a more larger urban scenario having severe environmental issues such as Delhi.

Hence, the "India Open Environment Data Project" took shape, aimed to provide the users access to standardized, visualized information about real time air-quality status of the city through open-source format.

III) Design of the Project

Given below are the stages involved in designing the "India Open Environment Data Project":

a) Selection of hardware sensors and other necessary hardware components for the environment monitoring kit:

The components used for the devices have been purchased from Seeed Studio. It is China based company that offers open-source hardware components and sensors which can be used for constructing multiple, different devices without any risk of violation of copyright.

b) Designing of the environment monitoring kits and the assembling of the sensors and other hardware components:

The design of the devices have been done by an Ahmadabad based hardware company called Oizom. These devices, called, "Environment Monitoring Kits (EMKs)" are equipped with multiple Seeed sensors like "Grove-CO2 Sensor", "Multi-Channel Gas Sensor" and many more. These devices are required to be wall-mounted in a semi-open space and they transmit data to the server via their GPRS feature.

c) Setting-up of the web-server and database for information storage:

The EMKs are sending the environmental-data to the server directly. The servers that are currently being used to receive the data from these devices are Apache servers and IBM Bluemix. Apache server is a freely available web server that is distributed under an open-source license. These servers are basically receiving all the data being sent by the EMKs from different locations of Delhi. All the data that is being sent from the EMKs across different parts of Delhi, are stored in phpMyAdmin. It is a free and open source tool written in PHP. It is intended to handle the administration of MySQL or MariaDB with the use of a web browser. It can perform various tasks such as creating, modifying or deleting databases, tables, fields or rows; executing SQL statements; or managing users and their permissions.

d) Setting up of the front-end visualization for user's access to information:

The front-end visualization of the information was carried out in 3 different stages. The first stage of visualization was done by a Pune based IT service firm called "Imperial Service Group". The visualization involved a map of Delhi where different locations were marked by pointers which were colour-coded on the basis of AQI. Each pointer allowed the user to access additional details like the current trend and status of each parameter for last 1 Hr and 24 Hr basis. The second stage of visualization was carried out by the JSM internal team, which further developed the existing design in terms of stability, consistency and accuracy. The design was kept the same. Only a few additional features such as links, tabs etc were integrated. Finally, the third stage of visualization was done by Oizom's technical team. This new visualization was a complete makeover of the existing design, however the basic structure, i.e, showing air-quality data on a map, was kept the same. The new visualization theme offered data not just of Delhi but of entire India where information on air-quality of 30+ locations of Delhi was integrated along with the data provided by different state regulatory bodies of India.

The visualization of the data was designed in such a way so that every user could easily extract the information of the exact location in Delhi or India and know more about the real-time air-quality of that area at any given point of time. The colour-coding of the exact location helped in indicating the degree of severity of air-pollution in that respective area along with a set of prescribed actions that the user may follow. The designed visualization highlighted the changing trends of air quality via graphs and figures making the whole understanding part of the data as simple and easy as possible.

Change in the visualization theme

IV) Key Ingredients Involved:


No project is sustainable without the help of certain tools, technical knowledge and resources. The "India Open Environment Data Project" was no different. The project did involve specific kind of tools and techniques to shape it up as per the desired vision. The key ingredients involved are as follows:

a) Environment Monitoring Kits

(To know more about EMKs, click here)


The Environment Monitoring Kits(EMKs) are one of the main ingredients of this project. After carefully studying the existing methods of assessing the air-quality in Delhi, it was found that the regulators were making use of machines that were not only expensive (costing more than Rs. 3,00,00,000) but also lacked scalability. In order to attract the desired community participation, a kind of device was required which could be cost-effective, easily scalable and could provide real-time data about the air-quality that can be monitored at any point of time. The first prototype was designed in Nashik for Kumbhathon. The prototype was based on a rough design and was fairly unstable. However, the positive feedback received from the pilot testing during Kumbh Mela led to further research and development of the device. The final design of EMK, was a well-enclosed plastic box within which all the sensors were placed. The device was required to be mounted on the wall. The device had GPRS, GPS and WIFI capabilities. The key emphasis was made on the power consumption. The device only required a 5 VA power through any USB compatible device or a charger. The device was calibrated as such, that it would provide the air-quality data of a particular area within a time-gap of 5 minutes.

b) AirOwl

(To know more about AirOwl, please click here)

4.IODA AirOwl DiY Dust SPM 2.5 10 Monitoring Kit Front.JPG

Just as an owl sits quietly during the night and observes each and everything around it, the AirOwl has been designed with the similar principle in mind.

AirOwl is the next level designed environment monitoring assessment device which is based on the idea of Do-It-Yourself (DIY). The key aim of introducing the AirOwl is to involve people from the age group of 6-7 years upto 60+ and make them understand how assembling an air-quality device is easy and effective. It was believed that when an individual would put an effort in doing something, he/she will become more eager to know about the future prospects of their efforts. The AirOwl will be accessible to the people in the form of "Lego Pieces". They will have to assemble the device by themselves by following simple instructions provided and gain access to the air-quality data both indoor and outdoor of their residence as well as get a chance to share their data with a larger public.

c) AirCube

(To know more about AirCube, please click here)

AirCube Body 2.JPG

Want to enjoy the crystal dhoop, without any issue of bad air poop, time to get your AirCube.

Presenting the latest invention in the series of real-time air quality assessment, we bring you AirCube, the next level design in assessing the dust level parameters along with temperature. The AirCube is a more functional, stable and accurate device for air quality assessment so far. Not only is the device apt for knowing the quality of air that exists indoors but it also offers way more accurate data of the outdoor air quality as well. The advantage of having AirCube is that since the sensors are well protected in a well-designed encasing shell, the quality of real-time air quality data is way more rich and stable. Therefore, if you have a loved one and you care about the quality of air it is breathing. Think no further, get the cube, see the change and drive for betterment.

d) Open Environment Data Map

The Open Environment Data Map is the front-end visualization theme on which the data from different devices including EMKs and state regulatory machines is being shown in an open format. The environment map offers real-time air-quality information of almost whole of India, where any user can gain access to the air-quality data of any given city at any point of time. In addition to that, the platform also offers access to the changing trends in the air-quality and other environmental parameters on an hourly basis. The platform also offers access to Open APIs which any user can use to make a different visualization theme for the data. The map also offers scope for different users to share their data on different environmental parameters to generate awareness amongst the larger masses.

All the details about the design and programming of the map are accessible on the GitHub account.

V) Working


The working of "India Open Environment Data Project" is as follows:

  • Step I: The EMK is deployed in a key location of Delhi from where it transmits data about different parameters of the environment such as Dust SPM 2.5 & 10, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, ammonia and many more. The data transmitted through these devices is in parts per million (ppm).
  • Step II: The data transmitted from the EMKs is stored in the Apache web server. From this server the data is processed and converted into milligram by meter cube (mg/m^3) from ppm through Python (computer language). The processed information is then stored in database which is managed through phpMyAdmin. Any update of the records or changes in the conversion can be easily done in phpMyAdmin.
  • Step III: The data from the server is sent to the front-end visualization through JSON link, which allows the processed data from the servers to be converted into the designed visualized format. The data can also be sent via an HTML link.
  • Step IV: The user is provided a link to the visualization theme. Upon clicking, he/she is provided access to the map of India, from where they can select the locations offered and gain access to the air-quality data. Each location is assigned a colour coding which is based on the current AQI of that region at that point of time. The user can acquire further details like the changing trend of that area at any point of time along with the values of specific parameters of air-quality like carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ammonia, hydrogen and dust (SPM 2.5 & 10).

VI) Parameters For Environment Assessment

(To know more about the environment parameters, click here)

The parameters that are being taken to assess the air-quality index of Delhi are as under:

VII) Air-Quality Monitoring Devices

This section contains all the key details about various air-quality monitoring devices that are currently being used across different parts of the globe.

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VIII) Mobile Based Applications on AQI

This section contains all the key details about various mobile based applications for both android and iOS operating systems that allow the user to access the air-quality data of various locations across the globe.

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IX) Sensors

This section contains all the key details about different sensors that can be used for assessing various parameters of environment.

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