The Sniffer Bike: From regional experiment to international air quality analyser

Although all Dutch people together cycle about 15 billion kilometers per year, there is limited data about cycling. Thanks to the Sniffer Bike, it is possible to collect air quality and cycle route data that contributes to a Healthy Urban living Environment for everyone. Find out more about the impact, benefits and international plans of the Sniffer Bike in this interview with Richard Zuijdam of Civity and Ollie Smeenk of SODAQ.

Richard Zuijdam (left) and Ollie Smeenk (right).

Creating impact through collaboration

The Sniffer Bike is a project that started as an experiment in the Utrecht region. It is a small measuring device that can be easily attached to a bicycle to collect mobile data on a large scale by participating citizens. Think of data about humidity, temperature, road surface quality and air quality. Ollie Smeenk: "In 2018, on behalf of the Province of Utrecht, we designed an IoT measuring device that contains various sensors with which we can collect valuable environmental data. On the designed data platform of Civity, everyone can follow the daily measurements. The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment arranges the Sniffer Bikers' data validation. This collaboration works really well."

Actively contributing to improving the living environment

Currently, the Utrecht Region counts around 500 participating citizens who collect data with their attached measuring device. Other Dutch regions are also showing interest and are conducting pilots. Richard Zuijdam: "As a unique open-source project, we encourage citizens to participate so that better insights can be derived that would benefit everyone. For example, if measurements show that there are large temperature differences in certain places within a city, provincial policymakers and urban planners could tackle this with vegetation." The Sniffer Bike's great advantage is that cyclists can retrieve valuable data with relatively cheap sensors that allow research agencies and national monitoring institutions to understand air pollution better.

Better air quality everywhere for everyone

The amount of positive media attention and feedback has overwhelmed Zuijdam and Smeenk. Smeenk: "The many reactions encouraged us to start working on a new, more intuitive Sniffer Bike, together with the Technical University of Delft.” The SODAQ Air is a compact, versatile and rugged air quality monitoring device that will launch at the beginning of 2021. "Sniffer Bikes are currently active in The Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Sweden. With the SODAQ Air we also want to expand to other cycle-minded countries.” Zuijdam adds: “It is crucial to find the right partners in every country to properly implement the devices and correctly validate the data. With the help of the Trade Team of Utrecht Region, we found some suitable partners in Taiwan with whom we can possibly collaborate to implement the devices in their many shared bicycles. In the end, we strive to contribute to improving air quality at a price that allows widespread international deployment."