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Crowdsourced "Danger Maps" Track Air, Soil and Water Pollution in China

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, June 14 2013

Sunset in the smog, Shanghai, China (Suicup/Wikipedia)

Chinese citizens are exposing sources of pollution and other environmental problems by contributing to the partially crowdsourced website 'Danger Maps'. So far, the Chinese government is letting them get away with it.

The website was started last year by the IT Engineers for Environmental Protection Association. It consolidates existing reports of pollution and contamination in one place. The open platform that allows NGOs and individuals to contribute their own information is a recent addition, reports Tech in Asia. Any user can now open an account and report contaminated soil or water, or a source of pollution like a landfill, using GPS coordinates and photos when possible.

Pollution is a growing problem, from contaminated soil to dirty air. The government has started opening up about air and water pollution, but soil pollution is still considered a "state secret."

Danger Maps just got a financial boost from the Alibaba Foundation, the charitable organization associated with the e-commerce company Alibaba Group, so it will likely continue to expand (not all of China is covered by the maps currently available).

This kind of information is very valuable to potential investors in China, especially foreign investors with interest in environmental issues, which might be why the government is letting the website slide. However, if Danger Maps starts revealing too many 'state secrets' - or if the government thinks they put China in too negative a spotlight - who knows how long that will last.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network and the UN Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.