Plume Labs

How noxious is your city?

On the heels of the COP21 summit, a new real-time mapping tool tracks hourly changes in air quality for around 200 metro areas around the world. The user-friendly World Air Map, designed by Plume Labsa company that makes environmental software for health and well-being—offers a way to monitor the progress of long-term goals (such as the ones agreed upon in Paris) as well as short-term interventions (like the one being tested in New Delhi) on a daily basis.

Plume Labs helped bring attention to the air pollution problem in Paris last year, which led to the city instituting a partial ban on cars (similar to the one now being tested out in Delhi). And for this new map, the company has gleaned relevant data from half a million environmental measurements collected from 11,000 stations. The tool can estimate not only the extent of air pollutants in these cities, but also anticipate where the pollutants are wafting.  

”The data revolution can help policymakers cut air pollution and communities take back control of their environment,” the company wrote in a press release.

On the map, each city for which measurements are currently available is represented as a hexagon, which varies in size according to metro area population. Its color depends on where it is on Plume’s air pollution index, which aggregates measurements of carbon dioxide, ozone, and particulate matter levels in the atmosphere, TechCrunch explains. The darker the hexagon, the more polluted the city is.

New Delhi, for example, is the dark grey hexagon located at the heart of the Indian subcontinent:

Clicking on the hexagon pulls up a little summary of the air quality in the city. Delhi, as is evident below, doesn’t look great right now:

On the other hand, here’s the air report from Paris:

This map is also available in app form so that people can consult the 24-hour pollution forecast before heading out of their house to exercise. Here’s TechCrunch’s again, reporting on the app’s utility for users in Paris:

Co-founder and CEO Romain Lacombe told me that many early users in Paris have already changed their habits when it comes to deciding when to run. Sometimes, it’s better to delay your run by a few hours to avoid a pollution peak.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: a commuter looks at a small map of the London Tube in 2009
    Maps

    Help! The London Tube Map Is Out of Control.

    It’s never been easy to design a map of the city’s underground transit network. But soon, critics say, legibility concerns will demand a new look.

  2. photo: A vacant home in Oakland that is about to demolished for an apartment complex.
    Equity

    Fix California’s Housing Crisis, Activists Say. But Which One?

    As a controversy over vacancy in the Bay Area and Los Angeles reveals, advocates disagree about what kind of housing should be built, and where.

  3. Transportation

    How Media Coverage of Car Crashes Downplays the Role of Drivers

    Safety advocates have long complained that media outlets tend to blame pedestrians and cyclists who are hit by cars. Research suggests they’re right.

  4. Life

    Suburban Jobs Are Growing Fastest, But Urban Jobs Pay More

    New labor data show that the suburbs have the fastest job growth in the U.S. But we shouldn’t assume the future of employment will be suburban.

  5. A sign outside a storefront in Buffalo, New York.
    Environment

    Will Buffalo Become a Climate Change Haven?

    The Western New York city possesses a distinct mix of weather, geography, and infrastructure that could make it a potential climate haven. But for whom?

×