During our geography class recently we got to web chat live with @amrit_sharma, the guy behind #AskSmokey on twitter.
You can tweet “#AskSmokey what’s it like in #Delhi” or hundreds of other cities around the world. And you will get this nice little air quality report. And guess what? It is emoji based. 🙂
So now instead of just walking outside and getting a lungful, you can check on your computer first to know if walking to work is really as healthy as you thought.
Airairair.org allows you to browse the map and see what the air quality is like it even marks some streets during high pollution times like rush hour.
The two major downsides for me are, 1: disaster voyeurism. Really, air pollution is a horrible problem. *cough,cough* though the website and interactive twitter bot are great for raising awareness, and the link on http://www.airairair.org to earn more via email is really well written, but there is little you can do via the website or twitter feed to actually impact the problem.
And 2: coverage. Everytime I see something cool like this I search for the Bahamas. Don’t waste your time yet. We are not on the map. This is important because the dump on New Providence is still smoldering. But also, this means that some countries may be overly represented with negative or positive air quality reports.
The root of the data is the open air quality data from http://www.openaq.org. They get data from 62 countries according to their website and less than 2000 locations. The data is open access and represents different pollutants and indices. Amrit makes it accessible by peeling the indices back to emoji style “heart eyes and happy breathing” or “skull and crossbones die from the black lung” visuals.
If you know of a place collecting air quality data, recommend them on openaq.org. Maybe sponsor one for your school. Until then, I hope you can breathe easy where ever you are.
Ancilleno Davis, PhD. Candidate
Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology- Miami University, Oxford Ohio
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