Dec 4, 2015 by

Derek Markham

Just in time for the Paris climate talks, a French startup rolls out a live air pollution map, accompanied by an app that delivers localized alerts and air quality recommendations.

Although air pollution alone isn’t the reason for the annual climate talks, it certainly is part of the problem, and regardless of how clean or green we live our lives, we can’t avoid the effects of local and regional air pollution, no matter how many solar panels we have on our roof. Air pollution is one of the biggest silent killers of our time, and while solutions for reducing it and mitigating its effects must come from a much higher level, such as policy and regulations, than just our own personal lifestyle choices, we can take steps to reduce the amount of time we’re exposed to it, which is where this new map and app come into play.

Plume Labs, a startup based in Paris, launched its World Air Map at a side event at COP21, titled “Data Against Climate Change,” adding another tool for both activists and citizens to use in the fight for clean air, with the intent of “making the air more transparent.” The map integrates some half a million data points each day from 11,000 environmental stations across the world, allowing for not only a snapshot view of air pollution levels in both specific locations as well as larger regions, but also for estimating what air pollution levels will be at hourly intervals in more than 200 metro areas by using predictive modeling.

According to the company’s website, these predictive models can “anticipate long-distance transport of air pollutants” and help strengthen the accuracy of forecasting in urban areas. The resulting data, which can inform citizens about what times of day are the least healthy to be outside due to high air pollution levels, as well as help them understand the bigger picture, can be accessed via the web or by using the Air Report app (which also has a feature providing alerts with “personalized pollution reports”).

“The World Air Map puts this advanced technology at your fingertips and makes it immediately accessible, helping democratize access to environmental information. It makes the invisible phenomenon of air pollution visible – especially in countries that do not operate monitoring networks. By making the air more transparent, we hope it will also support climate activism and help visualize the harmful emissions world leaders aim at curtailing through the COP21 negotiations.” – Plume Labs

The World Air Map can be seen at Plume Labs’ website, and the free Air Report app is available for both iOS and Android platforms.

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