Emoji Map for Air Pollution

Yes, you read that right. Amrit Sharma has created an emoji map for air pollution. Check it out here.

What motivated you to create an Emoji Air Pollution map?

I created the Emoji Air Pollution Map because I could not bear the sight of yet another map riddled with air quality index (AQI) numbers. My experience of democratizing air quality data with Smokey, the friendly air quality chatbot, has taught me that people do want to know what they’re breathing and what they should do about it, but AQI numbers are simply ineffective at adequately communicating air quality levels to anyone that isn’t an air quality researcher. I decided to use emojis because regardless of how old you are, what language you speak or which part of India or the world you live in, you know the difference between a smiley face and an emoji that’s throwing up. Emojis aren’t just cute. They quickly convey lots of data. The Emoji Air Pollution Map overlays several sets of data today: 24h running average of PM2.5 from OpenAQ, real-time traffic data from Google, fires detected by NASA satellites (TERRA, AQUA and VIIRS) in the past 24 hours, and also, an ever growing list of sources of air pollution from around the world like coal-fired power plants.

How are people engaging with the map?

How can anyone not love emojis? The response has been great so far. I love that people are taking advantage of the auto-updating URL feature where anytime you move or zoom on the map, the URL updates to reflect what you are looking that. So when you share that URL in a tweet or in an email to someone, they will land on exactly the same part of the world on the map as you. The Emoji Air Pollution Map has been getting lots of traffic over the past week over California, due to the massive wildfires, and it’s also a fantastic way of tracking daily crop burning across North India because you can zoom down to the exact farm where the fires were detected. I look forward to continuously improving the map to make air quality data accessible and understandable to everyone in the world, whether they a 12 year old student in Kampala or a busy working parent in Noida.


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