The Sniffer Bike

What started as a regional experiment has since turned into an international air quality analysis programme. Learn more about the impact, benefits and global plans for the Sniffer Bike in this interview with two experts involved in the project: Richard Zuijdam of Civity and Ollie Smeenk of SODAQ.

14 March 2022 5 minutes

It might be surprising to learn that although the Dutch cycle a whopping 15 billion kilometres per year combined, the data derived from all this cycling is limited. However, the Sniffer Bike can collect air quality and cycle route data, contributing to a healthy urban living environment for everyone.

Creating impact through collaboration

The Sniffer Bike project began as an experiment in Utrecht Region. The product comprises a small measuring device that is easily attached to a bicycle, allowing participating citizens to collect mobile data on a large scale. Think of data regarding humidity, temperature, road surface quality and air quality.

Ollie Smeenk founded SODAQ with his father. Together, they create smart solutions for acquiring data. One such solution is the Sniffer Bike.

Smeenk says: “In 2018, we designed an IoT measuring device for the Province of Utrecht to collect valuable environmental data. Using a data platform designed by Civity, everyone can follow the daily measurements and data validation is carried out by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). This collaboration works very well.”



Actively improving the living environment

Utrecht Region currently has around 500 participating citizens who collect data through the Sniffer Bike project, with other Dutch regions also showing an interest and conducting pilots.

Richard Zuijdam, managing director of Civity, an organisation focused on creating smart data solutions: “Through this unique open-source project, we encourage citizens to participate so that the insights gained can benefit everyone. For example, if measurements show large temperature differences in certain places within a city, local policymakers and urban planners can address 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 better understand air pollution.

Better air quality 

Zuijdam and Smeenk say that the amount of positive media attention and feedback has been overwhelming.

Ollie Smeenk explains that the many reactions encouraged him to start working on a new, more intuitive Sniffer Bike, together with Delft University of Technology: “The new SODAQ Air is a compact, versatile and rugged air quality monitoring device that was launched at the beginning of 2021. Sniffer Bikes are currently active in the Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Sweden. With the SODAQ Air, we aim to expand to other bicycle-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 Utrecht Region’s Team Trade and Invest, we found suitable partners in Taiwan to help with implementing the devices in the many shared bicycles available there. Ultimately, we strive to improve air quality at a price that allows widespread international deployment.”

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