The air pollution problem in Port Harcourt has been of much concern to residents of the city.
It all started over a year ago with the appearance of black particulate matter popularly referred to as soot.
Social media campaign with the hashtag #EndSoot has tried to call the attention of relevant stakeholders to the incident and cause them to act.
Despite the sightings of soot, no real-time data has been made available on the air quality.
A tweet from a concerned resident reveals the existence of an app- AirVisual- that gives you real-time information on air quality.
AirVisual is founded on the belief that data enables action, and that without air quality data, the hazards of air pollution will remain invisible and unbeatable.
But here’s the twist: the app only works with the AirVisual node- a hardware that acts as a mini station for gathering and diseminating reports for a particular location.
Upon further investigation, it was discovered that a certain resident of Port Harcourt (Rafael) had purchased the device after wanting to know “with high accuracy how bad the air quality really is” this making Port Harcourt the only Nigerian city in the app. This is why residents are able to get readings for Port Harcourt.
Rafael’s Node air quality monitor, which he installed outdoors and implemented the settings of public access, shares its data to his local community in his residency area.
I did download the app and took some readings for my own location. In the app, air in a city is rated safe when it has an Air Quality Index between 0 t0 50, rated moderate when it has an AQI between 51 to 100, rated unhealthy for sensitive groups when it has an AQI of between 101 to 150, rated unhealthy when its AQI stands between 151 to 200, very unhealthy when it stands between 201 to 300 and declared hazardous when it is above 300. Port Harcourt has an AQI of 179 meaning it is unhealthy to live in.
The AirVisual app, which is both available for iOS and Android devices, is very relevant at this time for Port Harcourt residents as it gives some evidence of poor air quality thereby strengthening the #EndSoot campaigns. Rafael writes that it also very useful in helping to take smarter decisions about outdoor activities, and enables his neighbours to be more careful about their daily lives. The data, he says “is highly valuable” and can encourage people to mitigate the issue.