API Points for Sensor Owners

The release of the points-based billing system in the PurpleAir API has caused a lot of confusion, and generated many concerns regarding how this system is intended to work for PurpleAir sensor owners. In this post, we want to waylay these concerns by providing context for the original release and relaying new information about an upcoming system we are creating for sensor owners.

Why is there a billing system?

Historically, the entirety of PurpleAir’s operation has been supported and funded by sensor owners. Their sensor purchases have allowed us to create a business, which we will always be thankful for. Our intention with the paid API is to even the balance between sensor owners and data users. This change will enable us to continue providing the services that we pride ourselves on for many years to come.

How will sensor owners get data?

Our intention is not to make sensor owners pay for the data from their own sensors. We are currently developing a system that will enable sensor owners to download the data from their own sensors cost-free. Pulling data from your own sensor will still use points. However, you will earn points as your sensor contributes data to the map; these points will be enough to download the data your sensor has uploaded at a minimum.

There is no timeline set for the release of this system as of yet; further details are forthcoming. In the meantime, we can assist you manually. If you are in need of API points to get data from your sensor(s), send an email to contact@purpleair.com, and we will provide free points to cover you until this new system is available.

What does this mean for the average user?

In our experience, the average PurpleAir user doesn’t pull raw data from the API. If this is true for you, you can expect that nothing will change. The common services that members of our community use, such as PurpleAir Map, are still free and always will be.

What will happen to my points if someone pulls data from my sensor?

Nothing. If another user pulls data from your public sensor, this will draw points from their API account, not yours.

Does this change the operation costs for a PurpleAir sensor?

No. PurpleAir sensors are a one-time purchase; we do not have a subscription for running them or accessing their data on the PurpleAir Map. Outside of your own energy and internet costs, it is free to operate a PurpleAir sensor. This will always be the case.

1 Like

I get it - your investors (and employees) need to be paid, and expenses are increasing everywhere. I don’t mind the concept of “paying to play”.

HOWEVER, from my point of view as one of those who “allowed you to create a business”, I certainly don’t feel your “thankful-ness” with a “broken” API and no data.

As it’s said, “water under the bridge” and “you can’t unrig a bell”, so I won’t waste bandwidth telling you the ways this SHOULD have been handled. I can only hope that:

  1. You have enough folks monitoring the “contact” email so that those who have asked for points won’t have to wait TOO long.
  2. You allocate enough points so that those of us who DO use the API won’t have to spend excessive time and effort tracking them and “going back to the well” - perhaps you can look at past usage and predict from that,

It wouldn’t be THAT hard to firewall the device so that my data was no longer sent to your servers. Maybe I’ll start charging you for MY data.

Clay Jackson