Crowdsourcing Data to Fight Air Pollution

Jason Brick at PSFK: “Air pollution is among the most serious environmental problems of the modern age. Although pollution in developed nations like the USA and Germany has fallen since the 1980s, air quality in growing technological countries — especially in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) group — grows worse with each year. In 2012, 3.7 million people died as a direct result of problems caused by chronic exposure to bad air, and tens of millions more were made ill.
There is no easy solution to such a complex and widespread problem, but Breathe offers a fix for one aspect and solves it in two ways.
The first way is the device itself: a portable plastic brick smaller than a bar of soap that monitors the presence and concentration of toxic gases and other harmful substances in the air, in real time throughout your day. It records the quality and, if it reaches unacceptably dangerous levels, warns you immediately with an emergency signal. Plug the device into your smart phone, and it keeps a record of air quality by time and location you can use to avoid the most polluted times of day and places in your area.
The second solution is the truly innovative aspect of this project. Via the Breathe app, any user who wants to can add her data to a central database that keeps statistics worldwide. Individuals can then use that data to plan vacations, time outdoor activities or schedule athletic events. Given enough time, Breathe could accumulate enough data to be used to affect policy by identifying the most polluted areas in a city, county or nation so the authorities can work on a more robust solution….(More)”