To combat air inequality, governments and researchers must open their data
Both urban and rural parts of India face poor air quality, and Delhi, in particular, has been in the media limelight for high levels of air pollution. In November this year, Delhi faced an extreme air pollution episode which resulted in soaring sales of air purifiers and masks, and demand for action on air pollution.
A number of organization, both within India and internationally are advocating to make air pollution data public, so that it can be used to inform and educate people, and galvanize support for action on air pollution. While governments routinely conduct air quality monitoring at the national and regional level, there still are several gaps in our understanding of air pollution and its sources, particularly in the global south.
In India, for example, regulatory air quality monitoring is conducted across all states and UTs through Central and State Pollution Control Boards, but most of this data is not available to the public. In recent years, efforts such as IndiaSpend Breathe Network and India Open Data Association have set up low-cost sensor networks to monitor air pollution, and the data is shared via websites, social media and apps. Easy access to air pollution information is alerting people to the dangers of air pollution exposure and empowering them to ask difficult questions about government policy on air pollution control and mitigation.
A global group of scientists and researchers including Christa Hasenkopf (OpenAQ) Pallavi Pant (UMass Amherst and Air Quality in India) have recently shared their ideas on making air quality data open. This article discusses how open air quality data could lead to better civic engagement, effective mitigation policies and public health benefits.
So read through, enlighten yourself and others.
Breathe better and feel better!!