As the U.N. climate summit in Paris gets underway this week, a French startup has launched a live map of air pollution to show which cities are suffering the worst. (Hint: Check out China!)
The World Air Map is produced by Plume Labs, a Paris startup that debuted earlier this year. Plume pulls pollution data from monitoring stations around the worlds and makes the info available through an app on smartphones.
According to Plume founder Romain Lacombe, the company’s goal is to make the information available to people in a way that helps them make decisions every day to protect their health.
But as the COP 21 summit is starting, Plume saw an opportunity to use its data to create a more global picture of air pollution levels. The World Air Map pulls data from more than 150 monitoring stations and displays it in expanding and shrinking balls that change colors. The colors range from light blue, which indicate less air pollution to almost-black, which indicates extreme air pollution.
At the moment, people choking to death on smog in Beijing may not need an app or map to tell them the air pollution is horrific. But still, the app and map track small changes up and down that will let people watch for moments in their neighborhood when the air is less toxic.
Of course, Lacombe is hopeful that by visualizing this data on a global scale and making it easily accessible that Plume will add to the sense of urgency surrounding the negotiations to reduce emissions.
“There are a lot of important policy discussions,” Lacombe said. “But certainly tech has a role to play in this crisis.”