An App to Watch Polluters?

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Disclosing environmental information and giving people access to it

Ever since the recent Sungai Kim Kim pollution in Pasir Gudang area, the public have been wondering about the moving forward efforts of the parties involved i.e. the government, town councils, private corporations, NGOs and etc.

It was reported that the chemical dump at Sungai Kim Kim has affected the health more than 4,000 people, including students, forcing the government to close all 111 schools in the district.

Similarly, but in a larger scale, more than a million people in China died from the effects of ambient air pollution in 2012, according to the World Health Organisation. It’s a shocking number, and Ma Jun, an environmentalist, is exerting steady pressure on the Chinese government and private companies to reduce it.

According to the National Geographic website story, as a former investigative reporter who wrote a ground-breaking book called China’s Water Crisis; Ma founded the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) in 2006. The organisation aims to make environmental data accessible. “We have to involve the people in our environmental governance,” says Ma. “They must be informed.”

At first there was little data to share. But in 2013 China vowed to “declare war” on pollution and began releasing the hourly levels of PM2.5, the especially harmful fine-particle pollutants. IPE and its partners pushed for the sources of those pollutants to be disclosed. When that happened a year later, IPE incorporated this new data into an online map and phone app called the Blue Map, where users can check the air quality of more than 300 Chinese cities and the water quality of thousands of rivers.

These efforts should be adopted here in Malaysia and in our region especially after the Sg Kim Kim incident and ammonia pollution in Sg. Sayong, Kulai, Johor. Through an app, the citizens can determine whether it is safe to send their children outside to play, and if it isn’t, they can identify which factories are to blame.