Smell PGH: A Mobile Application to Crowdsource and Visualize Pollution Odors

Designing crowdsourcing platforms that afford collaboratively forming scientific knowledge to support community empowerment is a challenging task. In our case, Pittsburgh residents have suffered from poor air quality problems for a long time. However, the residents lack the technological fluency to report and track where industrial pollution odors are frequently concentrated. This makes it hard to form and share convincing scientific evidence of poor air quality issues among stakeholders. We present Smell Pittsburgh, a crowdsourced mobile application for reporting and visualizing pollution odors. The application invites Pittsburgh citizens to submit smell reports anonymously or with personal information. The smell reports are sent to the local health department automatically and visualized on a map together with air quality sensor data and wind directions. The application also generates push notifications to inform citizens about air quality changes when others report pollution odors or the air quality index increases over a certain threshold. We envision that Smell Pittsburgh can empower Pittsburgh citizens to advocate for themselves in revealing and tackling local air quality problems in industrialized urban areas.

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Press Release

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Business)
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Opinion)
Fast Company Co.Design
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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