Tracking China’s most devious polluters? Now there’s an app for that, after Chinese environmentalist Ma Jun and his supporters developed an app that can show citizens just who is polluting their environment — in real time on a geo-location map. Powered by data collected at 10,000 plants around the country, the app allows millions to access and pinpoint major polluters, right on their smart phones or computers.



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Ma, along with his team at the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, hope to put the power to stop pollution in China into the public’s hands by turning to social media. With the app, residents won’t just have to endure the environmental damage caused by industry, but will be able to see exactly who is causing it and hopefully be motivated to advocate for change.

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Thus far, the app has found that the worst offenders are state-owned or government-affiliated companies, that are likely given leeway because of these ties. Two of the top polluters found by the app are the Tianjin Pipe Group, which produces the most airborne particulates, and the Dezhou Kaiyuan power plant, which is pumping out sulfur dioxide into the water and air.

Although pollution at this level is considered a crime, officials don’t always pursue companies because of political hang ups or lack of interest from the public. Ma Jun hopes that creating an accessible transparency through his app will motivate the public to take control, and push for the government to crack down on specific offenders.

Via The Grist

Images via BriYYZ and McKay Savage, Flickr Creative Commons