A new smartphone app seeks to shine a spotlight on major Chinese polluters by letting users see in real-time which factories are violating air pollution emissions limits.
The app, developed by Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE), uses data from some 15,000 factories throughout China that are now required to report emissions to local officials and the Environment Ministry on an hourly basis.
The government made all the data public at the beginning of this year, but now, for the first time, those data are available in one place through IPE’s new app and website. The app allows users to check air quality data for 190 cities and share air emissions data from polluters in those areas.
Factories producing excessive emissions are shown in red, making them easily identifiable. “If the air quality is bad you can switch (to the factory map) and see who is in your neighborhood,” IPE’s senior project manager explained. “It will be a very effective tool for people to voice their concerns.” Environmental groups applauded IPE’s efforts and said public supervision is essential to stopping local officials from simply ignoring pollution from profitable factories.