Many members of the PurpleAir community have understandable concerns about personal privacy. Often, these concerns lead individuals to avoid registering their sensors with us. This is a perfectly valid option for PurpleAir users. However, there are also many ways to reinforce privacy when registering.
Here are a few things to consider:
- Registered Name
- Registered Location
- Public vs Private Registration
During the registration process, you are asked to give your sensor a “Location Name.” This is the name of your sensor. There are no restrictions or requirements associated with naming. Frequently, our users will use their address or street as the name, but you do not have to name it this way. We recommend choosing a name that is something you know, but doesn’t specifically identify you or where you live.
When registering, you have the option of including a sensor location. If you do, you use a Google Maps pin to indicate where the sensor is located. PurpleAir devices do not have internal hardware that tracks location, all pins indicated on the map have had their locations chosen by their owners.
Public sensors that have not been given a location during registration are displayed in what we call “No Man’s Land.” More information can be found in this community article.
For anonymity reasons, you do not have to place the pin directly on your house or home. We recommend registering the location as somewhere adjacent to your home, such as in the middle of the street. That way, no house can be specifically identified. As long as the registered location is reasonably close to the sensor’s physical location, the data quality will not be dimished.
A private sensor, on the other hand, will only be visible to the owner of the sensor and anyone that the owner shares the appropriate information with. Private sensor data is only available from the API if the user supplies the correct identifying information (the same private information required to view the sensor on the map).
Data from private sensors and public sensors is stored on separate servers. This is to ensure data privacy and security.