When I moved to Hong Kong the air pollution that month was quite obscene. Schools were closed and outdoor activities around the city were cancelled as the air pollution indexes officially “topped out” in both Hong Kong and cities across the mainland (due to pollution, some weather, and a bit dust storm up North). Unfortunately I hadn’t a clue what the Hong Kong Air Pollution Index meant, and what was the difference between a reading of 100 or say 200 (on the scale of 500).
So I did some investigating and found the issue of air pollution and how to measure it is highly complicated and controversial. Hong Kong’s standards were decades out of date compared to new scientific evidence on the effects of pollution, and promises to upgrade continued on and on again. I decided there had to be an easier way to know if it was safe to send the kids outside or not.
I built a Hong Kong air pollution website which is primarily a math exercise. Those looking for funky graphics will find themselves sorely disappointed. But it enabled me to get a handle on the math behind air pollution equations, and from that I was able to start displaying the air quality in Hong Kong by using other standards from different countries.
“This would be a cool app” I thought, and started on the path of teaching myself how to develop an iPhone app. I got pretty well along, with one or two major hitches, so I decided to hire a freelancer. That went badly. We didn’t communicate well and promises of “another week, another week” stretched into months. I finally gave up and hired a professional software company that was able to put out a finished product in very quick order.
So now the Hong Kong Air Pollution app is online and ready for business. And just in time for the release, the air quality in Hong Kong has mellowed quite a bit. A monsoon hangs over Hong Kong keeping the air pollution down and interest in monitoring somewhat subdued. But I’m sure in a few weeks we’ll start to peak up against the warning limits once again and we’ll start to see some more downloads.
The app is free on the App Store, but feel free to click the ads if you want.