How can your cell phone protect you from air pollution?
A California nonprofit now lets any camera-equipped cell phone measure your exposure to black soot.
I wonder if Hayek owned a cell phone? This article about the cell phone reports that soon you will be able to determine whether you are exposed to high levels of air pollution just by waving your phone around.Skip to next paragraph
Mathew is an economics professor at UCLA and has written three books: Green Cities (Brookings Institution Press); Heroes and Cowards (Princeton University Press, jointly with Dora L. Costa); and in fall 2010, Climatopolis: How Our Cities Will Thrive in the Hotter World (Basic Books).
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"Rather than using cell phones to just snap photos of friends or the occasional celebrity sighting, phone users in California may get the chance to track levels of harmful black soot near their workplaces and homes.
Tech entrepreneurs created a simple circular filter that darkens over time as it absorbs black soot. Anyone with a basic cell phone camera can take a picture of the filter next to a calibration chart that reflects different black soot pollution levels - no smartphone required. "We don't need a fancy app for this, because we just need to be able to e-mail it or SMS it to our system," said Martin Lukac, a cofounder of the nonprofit Nexleaf Analytics. Sending the photo via e-mail or text to an online database allows the cell-phone user to get back info about black soot concentration. The power of that information is that it reflects the individual person's exposure to air pollution."
This is just one example of how information technology helps us to adapt to changing circumstances (of course I'm thinking ahead to climate change).
Another example of the future power of the cell phone is Nathan Wolfe's efforts. As I read in the New Yorker, this guy was my colleague at UCLA and he had the nerve to quit our esteemed faculty so that he could have more time for field research. He is interested in how viruses pass from animals to people in poor rural parts of the world. Here is an interview with this nerd where he celebrates that rural people with cell phones can know when an epidemic is breaking out and will change their behavior to protect themselves and this will have social benefits in slowing contagion risk.
"What's next? What are you excited about?