The National Air Quality Index, which was launched on Monday, was developed by professors and students of IIT Kanpur, in one of UP's most polluted city. The team behind the project is now in the process of developing a mobile app to take the index to the smartphones of those on the move.
The focus of the project, say members of the team that developed it, is not only to say if the air quality is good or bad, but also to peg it on the basis of possible impact on the health of locals. With this aim in mind, the National Air Quality Index features data shown with a colour-coded display. A poor reading is accompanied by a health impact advisory, reading, "Respiratory illness on prolonged exposure".
"The idea was to not only say that the air quality is poor or very poor but also its associated possible health impact. It is particularly important for those who have some respiratory, heart or lung diseases," says Prof Mukesh Sharma of the Civil Engineering Department, who headed the team of two professors and two students.
For the M Tech IInd year students, Swapnil Mahajan and Sagar Parihar, living in Kanpur was one of the factors they came onboard the project. Using cycles to commute on campus, they point to a traffic jam outside the gates. "This would be a moderate or poor air as there is vehicular pollution as well as dust," declares Sagar Parihar.