Polish air quality app gains global interest

An application invented by students in Poland is raising awareness about air pollution and now being used around the world.

The app “Airly” keeps users updated on their city’s air quality, using timely and accurate data.

The application was devised in 2016 when students from the University of Krakow were preparing for a marathon and looking for areas with the cleanest air for their training.

“Air quality has became a widely discussed topic in Poland. Our country has got a huge problem with air pollution,” Marcin Gnat from Airly explained to Xinhua.

It then turned out that their idea was something that a lot of Krakow’s inhabitants really needed. Very quickly, the project expanded to the whole country.

And with statistics from the World Health Organization showing that 9 of 10 people living on earth are breathing polluted air, the app has proven to be an instant hit.

Testing and development took place in Krakow, which has a population of one million and suffers from dire air quality, along with smog.

Until recently, Gnat said, the only trustworthy source of air quality data came from state-run monitoring stations.

“Although they were very accurate, there were only a few of them across the city. The Airly sensors came from the idea to build the air quality measurement network with a maximum density of the devices, so the inhabitants could know the exact air quality in real-time in their immediate surroundings,” he added.

Now, Poland has over 2,500 active Airly sensors in operation.

The air pollution sensors are easy-to-install devices that measure particulate matter concentration and gas pollutants. The measurements are sent to the Airly data cloud and real-time information about the current air quality is displayed on an online map, mobile app, and a data science dashboard.

“We are also able to analyze the historical data about air pollution in the given area and, what is very important, our advanced AI-based algorithm is able to create a high-quality air quality forecast,” Gnat told Xinhua.

Although the system was built and constructed in Poland, it immediately gained global attention.

“We are extremely happy that our solution is gathering such a great interest all around the world. Now we are present in 20 countries, mostly European, but recently we’ve installed our first sensors in Africa and the Middle East,” Gnat noted.

According to Gnat, there are 7 million annual deaths worldwide that are caused, more or less, by air pollution.

“If we don’t take serious actions against the problem, it could get even worse. Recent tragedies, such as Amazon forest fire, are a negative harbinger of what can happen in the future,” he said.