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Visual Unearthing Visualizes Air Quality Using Open Data© CC-BY-SA 4.0 Mikko Agustin

Visual Unearthing

Initiated by Goethe-Institut Indonesien, the regional project “Visual Unearthing” presents its findings on air quality levels before and during the pandemic using open data in four Southeast Asian metropolitan cities.

The background of the project

The Corona crisis provides us with historic momentum toward a more sustainable society: the air in Southeast Asian metropolitan areas has never been clearer. With economic revitalization comes the risk that this window of opportunity in the crisis will remain unused and will be quickly forgotten. The regional project “Visible Unearthing” seeks to prevent this.

Using open access data, we analyzed the situation in the urban ecosystems of Hanoi, Jakarta, Manila and Bangkok at different data collection points. The goal was to visualize and archive the data for the general public.

The challenges here varied depending on the collection points. In the Philippines the data tended to be less complete; in Thailand an adequate partner could not be found; and in Hanoi there were delays in the process. It was nevertheless encouraging that, for example, the water values in Jakarta were reliable and well documented. While the study identified numerous positives with regard to data comparability, addressing challenges should increase the quality and accessibility of data collection accordingly. We hope that greater effectiveness in the political arena can be generated.

Initiated by Goethe-Institut Indonesien, the regional project “Visual Unearthing” presents its findings on air quality levels before and during the pandemic using open data in four Southeast Asian metropolitan cities.

Air pollution remains a major problem in metropolitan cities across the world and affects the quality of life. Exposure to ambient air pollution alone has causes approximately 4.2 million deaths every year according to WHO data.

Poor air quality is at an alarming level and a continuous challenge in various regions of the world, including Southeast Asia, without any significant improvement. However, the coronavirus pandemic, which crippled the economy and health care systems of some regions, brought a breath of fresh air.

Cleaner skies and increased visibility are conclusive evidence directly felt by people during the lockdown periods in their respective areas. Open environmental data can also reveal the quality of air when movement restrictions were implemented.

Download the publication of the research:

Visual Unearthing is a project commissioned by the Goethe-Institut Indonesien with conceptual support from Nana Karlstetter, researched by a team from Step Up Consulting led by Michael Canares.

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