OGDEN -- Weber State University students created the new smart phone app that will deliver current air quality information to the purses, pockets and backpacks of Utahns making decisions about their outdoor activities or their personal impact on community air quality.
The "Utah Air" app, developed by WSU students as part of the National Center for Automotive Science and Technology (NCAST) in partnership with the Utah Division of Air Quality, displays both ozone and small particulate matter data collected by DAQ monitors throughout the state. The free app is available for both iOS and Android users.
With current and forecasted air quality data as close as their smart phones, Utah residents can make informed decisions about current air quality and whether they want to add to problems by driving their automobiles or burning wood in fireplaces or stoves. People considering outdoor exercise will also have quick access to air quality information.
"With the DAQ launching a new air monitoring alert system, our idea was to take that system and put in a smart phone, with all the data from their database," said Joe Thomas, director of NCAST, at Weber State. "The app makes it easier for people to do things to protect themselves, and to make choices that will help reduce pollution in their air."
The app puts information at phone owners' fingertips when they are not near their desktop computers, and don't have their laptops or tablets open or activated, Thomas said.
Weber State computer science students who had already mastered programming completed the app over the period of about two months, Thomas said. Automotive technology students also participated in the project, as did marketing students.
"It's one of the first projects we are embarking on," Thomas said. "We felt with the DAQ coming up with the new alert system, our app could come out at the same time."
Thomas said many students worked on the app, each documenting his or her own work so others could build on it. The DAQ liked the department's pitch, and the partnership was born.
The Utah Air app is available for free download in both the Apple and Android apps stores. In addition to the new app, DAQ's air quality alerts are available on its website (www.airquality.utah.gov), by calling toll-free (1-800-228-5434), and through regular email updates (www.deq.utah.gov/ListServ). Visit www.airquality.utah.gov for more information.
"It's my responsibility to mentor these students," Thomas said. "What they accomplished is quite amazing. Once they get a project they have a passion and willingness to study and learn. That is our goal at the center, to encourage students to think out of the box. They can take what they learn in school and put it out in the larger world. And they actually now have a product they can show to future employers or to graduate schools. It's a great motivation for these students."
Contact reporter Nancy Van Valkenburg at 801-625-4275 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @S_ENancyVanV.