China-based startup aims to monitor pollution


  • TECH
  • Wednesday, 03 Feb 2016

People wear protective masks near the Bund during a polluted day in Shanghai, China, January 19, 2016. Air pollution levels fell in most cities in China last year, environmental group Greenpeace said on Wednesday, but a humid and windless winter shrouded swaths of the country in choking smog, slowing improvement in the second half. Picture taken January 19, 2016. REUTERS/Aly Song TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

BEIJING: A China-based startup firm launched a campaign to fund a project which would allow people to monitor air pollution locally, and to crowd-source data on the problem in many countries around the world. 

Airvisual.com, based in Beijing, has designed a personal pollution measuring device that can feed air quality data into a worldwide network, providing up-to-the-minute information on local conditions as well as three-day forecasts. 

The company launched a campaign Feb 1 on crowdfunding website indiegogo.com to try to fund production of the device called the “Node”, which can track levels of CO2 and PM2.5, harmful microscopic particles that penetrate deep into the lungs. 

Users outside China can opt to send information from the device to the company, from which it can develop its pollution modelling and forecasting capabilities. 

But the feature will not be available for Chinese users, the website said, due to government regulations preventing individuals from sharing outdoor air quality information “publicly”. 

Air quality information is published on an hourly basis in many parts of China, but there are currently few options for people to monitor conditions in their home or workplace. 

Although the company is based in China, its devices will be available for sale around the world. 

The company describes itself as a “social enterprise”. Its goal is not profit but to let people “help protect themselves and thrive in a polluted environment”, said company co-founder Yann Boquillod. 

Air pollution is a pressing concern for people in many countries, particularly in the developing world, where air quality controls are often incomplete or ineffective. 

In parts of India and China, for example, PM2.5 is regularly well over the World Health Organisation’s recommended maximum average exposure of 25 micrograms per cubic metre in a 24-hour period. 

In December Beijing experienced several waves of pollution that left the city choking on smog that clocked in at levels well over 300 and drove a shopping frenzy for air purifiers and masks. 

The crowdfunding campaign was “going well”, Boquillod said, and had already achieved 33% of its goal of US$10,000 (RM42,030) by the evening of Feb 1. — AFP

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