The Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs is hopeful that the app will bolster whistleblowing efforts in China. More than just a public safety mechanism, the app is an attempt to publicly shame polluters by offering up-to-date info on emissions levels reported by factories to local authorities. The app will feature a map with color-coded pins marking the location of as many as 370 of the largest industrial companies and biggest pollution limit violators.
"If the air quality is bad you can switch (to the factory map) and see who is in your neighborhood," said Gu Beibei, senior project manager at IPE. "It will be a very effective tool for people to voice out their concerns."
Terrible breathing conditions have become routine throughout China in recent years, but especially so in early 2014. It's a reality that has inspired the Chinese people to voice displeasure collectively -- a rarity.
The app makers hope that by making pollution information more available to the public, citizens will be better able to direct their displeasure and hold local government officials accountable.
"When subject to public scrutiny, unreasonable and illogical data can be identified by environmental groups or experts with certain professional knowledge and skills," Beibei said.