CREATE Lab (which stands for Community Robotics Education And Technology Empowerment) came up with the app, Smell PGH, as a way to help Pittsburgh’s residents to help improve the quality of the air they breathe. Pittsburgh and surrounding areas have the 8th worse air quality in the United States by the American Lung Association, mainly because of the pollution caused by industrial plants and wood smoke. Residents of the area have a much higher chance of developing cancer. As CREATE Lab puts it, “If you smell it, you breathe it”. So, in an effort to make the air less stinky and more healthy, the company came up with Smell PGH.
It really is as simple as it sounds. If you’re walking around Pittsburgh and smell a foul odor, all you need to do is open the app, mark your location, wind direction and rate the stench on a scale of 1 (Just fine!) to 5 (About as bad as it gets!). The data is uploaded, and you can be on your way to wherever you were heading, hopefully a location with cleaner (and better smelling) oxygen. The app also lets you see other areas and smells that were reported by other people using the map, so you know to avoid areas with a questionable odor – and you’ll know which areas are in the green as opposed to the angry purple the 5 rating lights up on the map.
More importantly though, every report of ‘bad air’ is sent directly to the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD), “…so they can better monitor and act on these incidents of bad smelling air.” The app is free for iOS and Android devices. Smell PGH is currently only available for the general Pittsburgh area, but that isn’t to say that it couldn’t be tweaked to be supported in other cities.
Pittsburghese certainly seem to be enjoying the app, as its 1,300 users have reported a combined 4,300 foul smells in and around the city. And that’s great, because the ACHD needs the help of the community to collect the data it needs to work on making Pittsburgh less smelly and more lung-friendly. And the reviews are raving – it’s obvious that residents of Pittsburgh are more than happy to do their part to help clean up the air they breathe.