Thursday, July 31, 2008

Using Ballons to Visualize Air Pollution

The air pollution index (API) is either presented as a number or as a color representing "excellent" to "worse" API in the city or part of the city, depending on the resolution of the analysis. And most often, this number is displayed on a website or on a bulletin board or played during a news broadcast, which most people might miss to notice.

The AĆ©rophile balloon is the first of its kind and employs an innovative color-changing system to broadcast the API message in Paris, France.

This is an innovative and can't-miss direct public awareness technique to display air pollution levels in a city.

Details @

Air Pollution in Beijing, China

The air pollution index (API) runs from zero to 500 and divided in categories of "excellent" to "heavily polluted". Readings below 100 are generally considered safe. More details on API, methodology, and an application for US region is available @ Air-NOW program

An archive of API for Beijing, China, from 2004 to current is presented along with a WSJ article here

Similar efforts are underway to forecast air pollution in Beijing, China, in preparation for 2008 Olympic Games. A daily 3-day forecast of the main pollutants - particulates, sulfur oxides, and nitrogen oxides in Beijing is presented @ Last week, this link was public, but now requires a login and password. Lets hope that this information will be open again.

Some interesting articles and links below

by TIME (May, 2008) - Airing out Beijing
by BBC (July 16th, 2008) - Beijing Pollution - facts and figures
by Science Daily (July 17th, 2008) - Outlook for Air Quality in Beijing is Borderline
by Science Daily (July 24th, 2008) - During Olympics, Cornell Scientists Will Study Air Quality in Beijing
by Wall Street Journal (July 29th, 2008) - Beijing Considers New Curbs for Air Pollution Reduction
by NY Times (July 29th, 2008) - In Beijing, Blue Skies Prove Hard to Achieve
by Guardian (UK) (July 29th, 2008) - Olympics Environment
by China Daily (July 30th, 2008) - Haze Doesn't Mean Poor Air Quality
by CNN (July 31st, 2008) - China Announces Emergency Pollution Plan
by Reuters (July 31st, 2008) - Confusing "Blue Skies"

Beijing Air Quality Measures by Phase

A compilation of air pollution news and information for 2008 Beijing Olympics is available @ Clean Air Iniative for Asian Cities

Walkability Scores for Your Neighbourhood

San Francisco, New York and Boston are the United States' most walkable cities, according to new rankings from a website that evaluates how easy it is to live in the nation's cities and neighborhoods without a car (Reuters)

For details on methodology and how your neighborhood ranks check

An application of Walkability index developed and applied in the developing countries (Ahmedabad, India by Ms. Holly Krambeck, MIT) is available @ Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities; funded and piloted by the World Bank (Washington DC)

Air pollution, besides the infrastructure requirements, is one of the key indicators to score high on walkability.

In Asia Sentinal (July 19th, 2008) - Asia's Good Walks Spoiled, discusses walkability issues in Bangkok, Manila, Jakarta, Hong Kong, and what is required in Asia... "perhaps the people at can take on this region next. We like to take a walk also and maybe they can tell us where to go."