An Open Data Platform for the Internet of Things

December 12, 2014 | 03:33 An Open Data Platform for the Internet of Things An Open Data Platform for the Internet of Things is an open platform for collecting sensor data generated by the Internet of Things. The company helps people share their data and put it to use.

Friends of the Earth Netherlands (FoEN), a Dutch environmental organization, campaigns against health adverse air pollution (Dutch). To raise awareness they equipped people with tools to measure the level of air pollution in their neighborhoods.

Networked sensors
“Ideally”, says Ivo Stumpe campaign manager at FoEN, “we would like to use air quality monitoring sensors that can stream data over the internet to make it directly accessible. The level of air pollution dependents on the season of the year and the time of day. If people can access real time data about air pollution in their environment they can adjust their behavior accordingly. Asthma patients, for instance, can avoid going jogging if pollution levels are too high.”

At the moment these kinds of sensors aren't available yet. “There are lots of measuring sensors on the market but they do not provide the quality we need yet”, says Stumpe. “They are not sensitive enough to provide solid scientific data.” So Friends of the Earth measures the old fashioned way: in collaboration with local communities they deploy Palmes-type diffusion tubes filled with a gel that passively collects nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from the air. After 4 weeks of collecting the tubes are send to a lab to determine level of NO2. FoEN then manually feeds the data into Google Maps to make it available to the public.

Obviously, this mode of operation does not scale very well. But air monitoring sensors are developing quickly and will be available in the near future. “As soon as they're available we'll deploy them”, says Stumpe.

The European Union has set standards for the maximum level of air pollution allowed, but in some areas these standards are exceeded. The bottom up air monitoring initiatives provide hard evidence the community can use to demand preventive measures from their elected representatives.

Internet of Things
Monitoring air pollution is one example of how the Internet of Things (IoT) can empower citizens to set up distributed measuring networks to improve their environment. But next to better sensors, it will also require a platform for collecting, distributing and unlocking the data. provides just that.

The company offers a platform that processes the data streams of internet connected devices and sensors. Users can sign up their device to the service and have it collect the messages send out by the device. provides access to real time and historical data, data analytics and data visualisation. Those users who publish their data under an Open Data license can use the service for free.

Open Data
Open Data means the data is free for anyone to access, republish and adapt. The Open Data Commons Open database License (ODbL) is an easy way for users to legally label their data as open. ODbL is similar to the Creative Commons (CC) for intellectual property such as photos and music. CC has developed licenses for creators to change the 'all rights reserved' status the law attaches to all intellectual property by default, to 'some rights reserved'.

For users who prefer to keep their data to themselves, offers paid services starting at $9 a month. But for an initiative like that of Friends of the Earth Netherlands open is exactly what the data needs to be.

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