The digital birdhouses saving the planet.

Joris Lam turned an art school rejection into a community-centred wifi solution to Amsterdam’s air pollution problem.

Joris Lam’s big idea to cut air pollution changed life in Amsterdam neighbourhoods for good. He invented TreeWifi, digital birdhouses installed around the city which pushed people to work together for cleaner air. They were rewarded with free wireless internet when sensors embedded in the birdhouses detected significant improvements.

Lam, by his own admission, was no high-flyer in school. “I was the worst student in the world,” he laughs. “I got kicked out of high school and dropped out of university in the first year.” He fell into entrepreneurship when he realised he needed an outlet for his creativity, but struggled to cope with the school system and authority.

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