How OpenAQ Elevated Air Quality Analytics With PostgreSQL® Management On AWS


Fighting air inequality through open data and community is the primary focus for OpenAQ, a non-profit organization empowering communities around the world to clean their air by harmonizing, sharing, and using open-air quality data. Through their open-source platform, users can easily access data that enables them to make a change for the better towards cleaner air.

OpenAQ wants to help the world solve one of the largest public health concerns, air pollution, by opening up access to vital air quality data to communities and organizations across the world. With their low-cost sensor data, they are now the largest open-source global repository of low-cost sensor and reference-grade data. This new feature allows OpenAQ to reach an even more diverse audience enabling them to fight air inequality on a larger scale than ever before.


Washington, D.C., U.S.A.


Environmental Tech


Bring Your Own Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS)

The Challenge

As a non-profit organization with limited staff, OpenAQ needed a cost-effective and time-saving solution to their PostgreSQL management that allowed them to effectively scale and customize their deployments to their needs. OpenAQ hosts over 7.8 billion data points and over 35 million API requests each month. After previously hosting their PostgreSQL database via Amazon RDS, they found that they needed a way to scale their database as they added more data. Bringing on low-cost sensor data meant ingesting data an order of magnitude greater than previously ingested, therefore they started looking at updating their database solution. To help optimize their data storage, the solution they found was using the PostgreSQL extension TimescaleDB which is optimized for time-series data. Due to RDS not supporting TimescaleDB, they had to look for other alternatives for database management.

The OpenAQ platform architecture is built on AWS, so finding a DBaaS solution that supported AWS as a cloud provider was important. When adding the low-cost sensor data to their offering, they needed a way to minimize the time spent managing the database and shift their focus to development.

The Solution

After searching for a solution that fit all their requirements, OpenAQ found ScaleGrid’s fully managed PostgreSQL hosting service. With ScaleGrid’s Database as a Service solution, OpenAQ was able to lower its costs and effectively scale as its data size grew. By having an easy-to-navigate console and a simple way to get an overview of their database statistics with ScaleGrid, OpenAQ can dedicate more time to their product and reduce the time spent managing their databases. ScaleGrid’s full support for PostgreSQL extensions such as open-source TimescaleDB was a major deciding factor that made their choice easier.

By utilizing the ScaleGrid Bring Your Own Cloud, OpenAQ was able to host their databases through their own AWS account and also have the management benefits of ScaleGrid. Coming from AWS RDS and having their platform architecture on AWS, wanting to stay with them as their cloud provider was preferred. With BYOC, they can continue using AWS as their cloud provider and save thousands of dollars long-term on their database hosting costs. They are also able to utilize their own AWS cloud account in combination with the management features of ScaleGrid.

With help from ScaleGrid’s PostgreSQL experts, OpenAQ was able to easily upgrade their PostgreSQL database with minimal downtime. Automatic alerts notify them of any discrepancies or key database stats that can affect their application performance, giving them peace of mind when it comes to any issues that should arise. Features they didn’t have before, such as analytical tools and reports to debug queries, speed up any troubleshooting they’d need to perform, and allow them to get a quick overview of their database.

The Results

By using a cost-effective DBaaS, that allowed them the freedom to customize and configure their PostgreSQL deployment, OpenAQ was able to put all their focus on delivering a better service to their customers. Having ScaleGrid’s automatic alerts, patching and upgrades, and 24/7 access to support for their database, meant they didn’t have to worry about managing their database anymore, alleviating the burden from their small development team. With ScaleGrid by their side, OpenAQ could focus more on developing a better service and scaling their data without worrying about what will happen with their database in the future. Their database is now fully managed and automated by the ScaleGrid console in the cloud, safely secured by encryption and backups.


“We were able to lower maintenance costs, reduce time managing our database, and develop a sustainable system so that we can focus on delivering our mission to fight air inequality worldwide.”

openaq-chisato-fukuda calvert

Chisato Fukuda Calvert

Deputy Director, OpenAQ


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