Installing the Air Quality Map on a Raspberry Pi

These instructions will enable you to install the Connected Humber Air Quality Map API/APP on a Raspberry Pi for the purposes of testing changes.

These instructions assume you will want to use the, recommended, NGINX web server and the MariaDB (MySQL) for the database.

You will also install a small python program ( to listen to either the Connected Humber MQTT broker or a local Mosquitto broker which you can publish test messages to.

CAVEAT: At this time, this system is undergoing constant change and this document may fall behind, especially the Air Quality Web section which is being worked on and updated frequently.

Hardware Required

  1. A Raspberry Pi 3/3+ would be great as they have on-board WiFi. Possibly this software could also be installed on any other Linux based hardware and earlier RPi (though the 3+ is faster)
  2. Bluetooth Keyboard, mouse and an HDMI monitor you can find out what IP address your Pi has been given. Thereafter you could use a program called Putty to remote login to a terminal window
  3. An internet connection - the faster the better


For offline testing you will need to install MariaDB (MySQL) and import a mysqldump of the database. So you should get a copy of the dump before you start. Note that a mysqldump will get bigger as time proceeds.

If you are not bothered about testing with historic data you could use a dump without data but you will need to add some entries to the devices, device_types and reading_value_types tables before you can start loading records from the MQTT broker.


Assuming your Pi has a mouse, keyboard and monitor...

RPi Stretch

  1. You should begin by doing a clean install of Raspbian Stretch on an SD card.
    1. make a note of the login password you set
    2. make a note of the IP address ( in my case)
  2. If the mouse is slow to respond add the following to the end of the /boot/cmdline.txt file whilst Raspbian updates.

PHP 7.x

You need at least php v7.1. if php -v shows a lower version then you need to upgrade it as follows:-

Step 1

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list.d/10-buster.list add this line:-

deb buster main contrib non-free rpi

Step 2

sudo nano /etc/apt/preferences.d/10-buster

Add the following lines:

Package: *

Pin: release n=stretch

Pin-Priority: 900

Package: *

Pin: release n=buster

Pin-Priority: 750

Step 3

sudo apt update

NOTE: You may need to change the version number in the following command as time goes by:-

  1. sudo apt-get install -t buster php7.3 php7.3-curl php7.3-gd php7.3-fpm php7.3-cli php7.3-opcache php7.3-mbstring php7.3-xml php7.3-zip php7.3-mysql
  2. php -v should show you have installed php version 7.3, or later, ok

Web Server

Step 1

sudo apt install nginx

You should now be able to use the browser and access localhost to get the Nginx welcome screen.

Configure nginx for php:

  1. cd /etc/nginx/sites-available
  2. sudo nano default

Uncomment the PHP section so it looks like this:

        # pass PHP scripts to FastCGI server

        location ~\.php$ {

            include snippets/fastcgi-php.conf;

            # With php-fpm (or other unix sockets):
            fastcgi\_pass unix:/run/php/php7.3-fpm.sock;

            # With php-cgi (or other tcp sockets):


We are going to put the Air Quality Web code into the localhost html folder (/var/www/html). If you know how to setup a virtual site using nginx then you should do so now and use the root of that server (something like /var/www/ or /srv/, maybe)

For systems which may be accessed from the internet you need to lock down access to config info as follows:

In Nginx:

nano /etc/nginx/nginx.conf

Put this inside the "server { }" block:

location ^~ **/path/to/data/directory** {
    deny all;

NOTE: /path/to/data/directory might be /var/www/html/data if you are not using a virtual website

In Apache:

Create a file called .htaccess inside the data/ directory with this content

Require all denied

Finally, restart the web server


You will need an SQL dump of the database ready before you do this. You could put this on a USB drive or install an ftp server/client (not covered here)

sudo apt install mariadb-client mariadb-server

The password for sudo access to mysql is the same as the pi login password from earlier.

To make life easier for now, upload the database and add a user with full access rights. This is ok on a test machine but you would secure the database against attacks on the live machine. You would fully secure a public system.

sudo mysql
>create database aq_db;
>use aq_db;
>source <your sqldump file>
>grant all privileges on aq_db.* to username@localhost identified by "password"

username and password will be your dbUser and dbPassword which you need to access the database and place in the settings files for and the Air Quality Map.

Update Node & NPM

echo "deb ./ #" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/sbrl.list
sudo curl -sSL -o /etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/sbrl-aptosaurus.asc;
sudo apt update
sudo apt install nodejs-sbrl

Air Quality Web

Finally, we are going to build the AQW software in a folder then copy the files into /var/www/html. You need to be logged in as a regular user (pi is fine)

cd $HOME
git clone
cd Air-Quality-Web
./build setup setup-dev

The following warning can be ignored:

leaflet.marckercluster1.4.1 requires a peer of leaflet@~1.3.1 but none installed

Now run these commands

NODE_ENV=production ./build client

Edit the file data/settings.toml and add the database username and password.

If your database is on a remote machine edit settings.default.toml find the line host="" and set the IP to your database machine.

You will need to ensure your database server allows remote access with a suitably secure grant command.

Copy the files to the web site root:

sudo cp -r * /var/www/html
sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/html/*

Now point your browser at localhost/app and the Air-Quality-Map page should display.

Adding New Devices

Currently this is a manual task.

Devices not listed in the devices table are ignored - you will see messages in the dbLoader log file which says something like

processJob(nnn): unresolved device_id. Payload skipped&#39;

Keeping the local database up to date

The database is updated with a python program which subscribers to our broker and processes the messages it received.

You need to run on your local machine. You can find it here:-

You need BOTH and

Edit and put in the correct username/password for the Connected Humber MQTT broker and your local database.

Logfile rotation

Create a file in /etc/logrotate.d:

sudo nano /etc/logrotate.d/dbLoader

Add the following (if you changed the logFile name in change it here too).

/var/log/aq_db.log {
    size 50k
    maxage 30
    rotate 10
    create 0644 root root

Adding dbLoader as a service

This will allow you to control the dbLoader

sudo nano /etc/system.d/system/dbloader.service

Add these lines:

Description=dbLoader service

ExecStart=/usr/bin/env python /home/pi/aq_db/


Now you can control dbLoader with commands like:

sudo systemctl start dbLoader
sudo systemctl status dbLoader
sudo systemctl stop dbLoader

In order to have dbLoader restart on boot use this command:

sudo systemctl enable dbLoader

Note that you will be prompted for the User's password.

Database Schema Changes

Currently it is a manual task to add extra columns/tables. If there are any changes it is simpler to request a new SQL dump of the existing database, drop the existing aq_db tables (not the database) then import the SQL dump with the source command as was done earlier.

Local MQTT broker (optional)

You can install Mosquitto as a local MQTT broker then publish test messages to it. If you configure to listen to your test broker it will then add you data to your local database.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install mosquito

The mosquito service will run automatically.

You can add password/username to the broker (if you need to). The instructions here will help you do that.


When you fire up the map you will, inevitably, get this message:

It simply means the database needs fresh data.

When you click on a blue marker you may get this:

When the dialog displays it chooses a recent timescale. The messages just means the device hasn't got any recent data (it could be offline). Select a different time frame and you should get something like this: