Remote air quality monitoring – Dhaka, Bangladesh

Air Pollution in Dhaka, Bangladesh

There is a good reason to worry about the Air Quality in Dhaka, as Bangladesh ranks 169th (out of 178 countries) at the Environmental Performance Index for Air Quality (2014 score)

  • According to the most recent World Health Organization data, the air quality in Dhaka reaches a yearly average of 90 µg/m3 of PM2.5, which corresponds to a Air Quality Index. Obviously, 168 – Unhealthy is just a yearly average, and the air pollution can reach much higher levels.
  • Making bricks for Dhaka’s construction boom, which provides a very good insight about Dhaka’s Air Pollution situation.

National Monitoring Network

Back in 2009, the World Bank started a 7 years investment of US$ 62.20 million in the Clean Air and Sustainable Environment project (CASE) program. The objective was, among others, to get 11 Continuous Air Quality Monitoring Stations (CAMS) installed in 8 cities to monitor major air pollutants and to generate real time air quality data including air quality index for major cities.

This was confirmed by this news from UNB which said that “A modern Air Quality Research and Monitoring Center (AQRMC) has been established at the center for Advanced Research in Sciences (CARS) of Dhaka University (DU)”.

But yet, despite the good news from the World Bank, the Air Quality readings are not officially available, and the Air Quality Research and Monitoring Center ( is not giving much details.

Crowdsourcing a real Air monitoring Network that works

For this reason, AQI are now investigating with several Institutions, Universities, Schools as well as individual citizens living in Dhaka the possibility to setup an alternative and crowd-sourced Air Quality monitoring network, which would allow to broadcast free hourly AQI information for several locations in Dhaka, and later in other cities in Bangladesh.

The monitoring stations used for this network are the semi-professional GAIA A12 Air Quality monitoring stations. The Gaia A12 is much more affordable than the traditional monitoring station ($200 for the GAIA A12 while it is $10,000+ for the traditional ones), but yet with a data quality as good and reliable as the traditional stations.

Gaia A12: Professional Sensing Station

Gaia A12: Professional Sensing Station

  • Particulate Matter Sensors: 3x PMS 5003
  • Meteorologic Sensors: BME 280
  • Power Supply: 5V (USB compatible)
  • Connectivity: WIFI (with external antenna)

Limitation on Gaia A12

  • WiFi is not readily available in Bangladesh. This device will be located on apartment rooftop. It will not have access to the home WiFi
  • Electricity supply in Bangladesh is not reliable as a result the system may not work 24/7
  • This required 5v power supply as a result additional 220v to 5v converter is required and placing it outside will not be easy

What will be the better crowdsourcing Air monitoring Network?

  • Can run on electricity 220v
  • Can run on battery & solar system
  • Can run on GSM network (not on LoRa or Wifi)
  • Can read GPS data for accurate location (optional)
  • Can run on international data plan (i.e and paid for year subscription/data collection
  • Can switch on offline and Online mode
  • Only required host electricity supply and rooftop installation

What can I do to help in this space?

I think I can help develop similar Air quality monitoring station which is more appropriate for Bangladesh.

  • Works on 220v connection
  • ESP32 based processor
  • GSM network connectivity (not relaying on WiFi)
  • Secondary power management via battery
  • Data will be collected directly into the cloud
  • Over the air upgrade(OTA) capability for remote device update

Current milestone of the projects

  • Short list of sensors (done)
  • Create prototype code to read data from sensors (Done)
  • AWS cloud infrastructure for IOT stack (MQTT) (Done)
  • PCB design (Done)
  • Access to MQTT via node-red
  • Data visualization using Grafana and influxDB
  • OTA capability via Wifi
  • GSM connectivity
  • OTA capability via GSM
  • Test data quality
  • Deploy test unit to Dhaka
Air Quality monitoring working progress

What’s happening in the background?

  • Prototype idea – 20th Oct 2020
  • Sourcing sensors (PMS & Gas) – Dec 2020
  • Reading PMS data – 1st Jan 2021
  • AWS cloud infrastructure for IOT stack – 6th Jan-2021
  • Device prototype – V1
  • PCB design – 14th May 2021
  • Device prototype – V2

Important links