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Pollution tracking app lets public tackle factory emissions

Chinese developers have launched a smartphone app that can record air pollution levels each hour and attribute them to particular factories across the country.

The application, which was developed by the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE), allows users to report pollution levels which may be exceeding regulations. The app also informs the government of any high-risk areas via a colour-coded map showing air pollution levels.

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The Chinese capital has battled against rising pollution levels for some time, with smog measurements regularly exceeding the level considered hazardous by the World Health Organisation (WHO). As a result, there are currently an estimated 15,000 factories across China that are required to update the local authorities regarding their emission levels in real time.

In an interview with Associated Press, Gu Beibei, project manager at the IPE said, "If the air quality is bad you can switch [to the factory map] and see who is in your neighbourhood. It will be a very effective tool for people to voice out their concerns."

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In a combined effort to tackle the pollution threat, the Chinese government have also made it compulsory for companies to publish pollution data for public scrutiny. Alongside its real time updates, the application's main benefit is its ability to collate all this information in one place.

The software already seems to be showing its effectiveness, with the IPE reporting that roughly 370 large industrial companies were producing excessive emissions on Monday.