Apps Plug Into Clean Air

BY ON November 7, 2011

 Jill Miller ZimonPresident Obama’s most recent rallying cry has been, “We can’t wait!” For those of us who embrace clean air like we do here at the Moms Clean Air Force blog, we explore new ideas that we can apply to this call to action.

Beyond even our in-depth posts about the myriad ways in which we should better provide for, and protect our clean air, we can do more. One example I’m excited about is, Apps for the Environment. As someone who was recently recognized with an award for political leadership in the digital age, efforts like Apps for the Environment are critical to building on, and building up, the momentum to keep our air clean.

For the uninitiated, the “Apps for…” movement is a popular way to take advantage of people’s fascination with apps (i.e., think everything from Angry Birds to on your desktop), and marry it to topics that you want to gain attention. Previous projects include the Sunlight Foundation’s two Apps for America contests (you can see the winners here and here). That competition sought creations that focus on making government open and transparent. Then there is Apps for Community, which is a project of Funded, and supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the FCC. Its mission is to have entrants, “… develop a software application (app) that delivers personalized, actionable information to people that are least likely to be online.”

From the Environmental Protection Agency’s Apps for the Environment site, we learn what the competition was about:

Apps for the Environment was a contest for software developers to find new ways to combine and deliver environmental data in new apps. Submissions to the challenge were required to use EPA data, address one of Administrator Lisa Jackson’s Seven Priorities, and be useful to communities or individuals.  The winners will be honored at the Building Innovation through Partnerships: Apps for the Environment Forum in Arlington, VA on November 8 (see In addition, the winning apps will be publicized on EPA’s website.

The five winners were announced last week, and we can access all 38 submissions here. The winners included apps that address issues tangential to clean air, but are still beneficial to environmental causes (check out the lightbulb finder!) However, if you go the full submissions list, you will find three fascinating apps that relate to clean air specifically. I’m going to highlight just one, but check them all out. (Don’t forget to re-read Ronnie’s great post from this past summer about a two-year research project dedicated to developing an app that connects a person’s health to their surrounding air quality.)

The one I love is, described as “a free, daily air quality alert for your city.” From their site:

AirStatus monitors the Air Quality Index also known as the AQI, which is a measurement of air quality standards established by the EPA for the purpose of protecting public health.  AirStatus keeps track of ground-level ozone and airborne particles (caused by ash, vehicle exhaust, pollen and even dust storms)…Every day, AirStatus will fetch the latest AQI levels and will send alerts to subscribers who may then take steps to protect themselves, their families, and others by planning around these high pollution days.

I’ve just signed up and you can too. This app relies on data from the AIRNow Gateway, a resource that provides real-time air quality data for 300+ cities in the USA.

Learning how to live a life that respects clean air is critical to protecting our health. With so many of us living mobile lives, we now have apps that help us stay cognizant of that which we rely on for life itself – clean air.

Please JOIN MOMS CLEAN AIR FORCE and help expand awareness and commitment to this cause.

TOPICS: Asthma, Pollution