Los Angeles County is known for its rich culture, diverse landscape, and most importantly, its beautiful weather. Unfortunately, also well known to most Los Angelinos is the horribly pervasive air pollution, which adversely affects many children throughout the County. Exposure to such horrible air is attributed through a confluence of factors, such as transportation to and from schools, outdoor physical activity, and a lack of knowledge regarding poor air quality days. Chronic exposure to high particulate matter (PM), ozone, or smog can contribute to upper and lower respiratory problems, asthma, or worse, decreased lung capacity.
In order to address such gaps, it is with great pleasure that the WINDS FOR A HEALTHY CHANGE Inc. would like to unveil its new interactive mapping tool that aims to informs students, parents, and educators about current unhealthy air quality, in order to make better-informed decisions regarding their outdoor activities. Our tool, currently in its beta phase, provides real-time information on a number of factors related to air quality such as: temperature, wind direction, wind speed and air quality indexes. Each of these variables will be presented in an easily understandable format that empowers, educates, and informs our target groups.
Who We Aim to Please:
- Students – Will be able to learn about alternative modes of transportation, such as bus routes, train lines, and subway stations using the Metro information incorporated into our map. We believe having these features will encourage students to be more sustainable, and participate in reducing automobile emission exposure by riding public transportation. Additionally, our interactive map provides information on a number of useful locations catering to students, such as libraries, parks, zoos, schools and bookstores.
- Parents – Will also be provided with similar amenities as students, with the additional benefits of locations pertinent to the working parent, such as hospitals, universities, and taxi stands. We hope that parents can use this tool to determine when it is safe for their children to play outside when they are not in school.
- Educators – Educators are our main priority with regard to our working prototype, as children spend most of the high pollutant periods within schools. Our hope is that educators can use our website to identify periods of poor air quality in order to adjust the students’ schedules to include outdoor physical activity when PM is lowest.
Through such informed decisions, we hope to aid in reducing the overall incidence and prevalence of respiratory issues among children within Los Angeles County.
The Winds for a Healthy Change Inc. will promote our website as a multi-faceted tool to schools within Los Angeles County. Teachers will be able to use our website in order to make informed decisions about poor air quality days and whether to allow children to play in such conditions. Teachers will also be able to use the website as an educational resource to teach students about issues of sustainability, environmental justice, and air pollution. We hope students can bring this information home to their parents or guardians, and that they will refer to our website daily, when making informed decisions.
Your Website Can Do What?!
Winds for a Healthy Change Inc. has scoured the internet in order to provide the user the most up-to-date information and technology regarding air pollution and public health. Whereas a multitude of websites have sporadic information on a variety of weather and air quality tools, our website combines these features together in a map that is both user friendly and easy to understand. A few of the features we’ve gathered are:
- Temperature data – users have the ability to view the temperature and the weather description.
- Wind data – users are able to see how strong the wind is as well as the wind direction. There are three different wind strengths represented by different colored arrows and eight different arrows in which we classify wind direction.
- Air quality data – users are able to see the concentration of particulate matter from a number of monitoring sources provided by the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
- Buffers – Indicate the extent and deposition of affected areas.
- Places – Generates specific points of interest or things we felt the users would benefit from knowing. These icons typically identify points of interest or outdoor activity centers.
- Real-time bus location data- users are able to see all the LA Metro Rapid bus lines and where they are in real time as well as their direction. We felt this would be an excellent resource for users who want to partake in reducing overall air pollution by riding public transportation.
- Demographic Data – Allows users the ability to see a variety of demographic information that may be useful to illustrate environmental justice issues.
- Bryan –
- Gathered background information for project/project vision
- Function quality control/Troubleshooting
- Layout vision/ User appeal
- Requisition of data
- Some CSS design work
- Developer page
- Some data requisition
- Coding map controls and features
- Explored Google layers and experimental functions
- Requisition and parsing of data, including original data from AirNow
- CSS style coding for site layout
- Google Fusion Tables
“Yeah, That’s Not Going to Work” Moments:
Real-time Air Quality Data – The main concern was obtaining access to real-time air quality data for Los Angeles County, particularly since air quality data is generally presented at a much larger scale. After finding an appropriate API, it was also difficult to incorporate it into our existing map, even after following the directions, links, and appropriate coding for the code to work – it appeared as though the JSON code provided by the website was wrong. In order to remediate this problem for the midterm, we obtained static data from a number of sources, incorporated them into fusion tables, visualized the data and applied buffers in order to show the extent.
User interface – Being able to come up with a layout that could easily apply to all three of our target groups was challenging. Since we want to display a variety of specifically chosen variables for each user, we wanted to think of a way that we could easily provide a variety of variables, but still provide the users with multiple options. We decided to use a mix of tabular and drop-down options, where users could view their specifically designated map, but also have the ability to add additional features if necessary.
Little obtained data – Most of the features, functionalities, and data provided on our map were obtained from existing websites, sources, and data found online. Whereas other groups may have obtained data sources, working with existing APIs that typically are not incorporated with one another proved challenging.
Combining APIs – A lot of the APIs and features we wanted to add were problematic in that they did not work well with the one another or inhibited specific functions. Acknowledging, working, and understanding their properties in order to have them functional was difficult.
Styling/colors – We approached styling through a number of variations, such as with Bootstrap, styling sheets, and typical CSS. In some cases, our styling sheet conflicted with our Bootstrap coding making it difficult to alter colors or variations.
Onward and Upwards!
- Forecasted weather projections
- Real-time air quality data
- Different checkboxes for each user (student, parent, educator)
- More sophisticated layout
- Better UI
- Search Bar
- Zoom in and out function
- Expanding to all of California