Monday, October 27, 2008

more on the datacenter

The Ministry of Environmental Protection's old air quality site hasn't been updated since 10/19, leading me to believe that the new online datacenter is here to stay. I finally had a chance to look through it in some depth today, and discovered some cool features. Unfortunately, the site is only in Chinese right now, but I'll keep checking and report back if an English version comes online. Also, it only works in Internet Explorer (not Firefox) on my computer, and even then still gives some weird scripting error messages.

In any case, here is a screen capture of the main interface:

The home page shows the Air Pollution Index (API) for 86 major cities in China, along with a pie chart displaying fractions of cities meeting various air quality grades. (In the screen shot above, 25 cities have "excellent" (优) air quality while 59 have "good" (良).) The bar graph below shows the 10 best API ratings across China each day. Congrats to Beijing for being 6th yesterday! The air quality data for the cities auto-scrolls on the home page; the complete list is presented here.

Besides additional air quality info (which I will discuss in detail below), the site features:

- Weekly water quality monitoring info for major river basins in China (全国主要流域重点断面水质自动监测周报), including some pretty detailed water quality analysis. (I'm no water expert, but from glancing through the data it seems both extensive and depressing.);
- A list of nature reserves in China (全国自然保护区名录);
- A list of companies in China that have received certification for environmental labeling (环境标志产品认证), though to be honest I'm not sure what this is used for;
- A search engine for environment-related scientific standards (科技标准查询), including links to the original documents;
- Some detailed info on solid waste management in China (限制类固体废物进口 and 自动类固体废物进口.)

My mouse goes directly to the air quality data, though, so let's explore that further...

First of all, as I mentioned in my last post, clicking on each city brings up a city-specific page, such as this one for Beijing:

At the top of this page, you can query past API data for any city you choose. In the results of the daily query, there is at least one new feature that was not previously available, and that is the presenting of the forecasted high and low API's for each day in parallel with the actual API. (Those in Beijing will remember last Friday's crazy winds; that day's actual API of 14 was a welcome, far cry from the predictions of 51-71!) There is also a graph of the last 30 days of API's.

Besides the city-specific sites, the following pages are available:

- A database of past air quality forecasts for each city (重点城市空气质量预报);
- An air quality analysis page (重点城市空气质量分析). There is some really cool stuff on this page - including the ability to rank and compare different cities in China against each other - and as such I think it deserves its own post. Therefore, rather than write more about it now, I'm going to save further explanation for another, more in-depth post about that page specifically. Also:

a) I can't imagine there are all that many people who got this far in this post anyway;
b) For those who did get this far, I want to make sure you have an excuse to come back to this blog; and,
c) It's time for me to leave the office...


ALW said...

Oh no, Hong He in Yunnan is at a level 5! But at least the beginning of the beloved Yangtze is at a 2. (This is how we amateurs look at things).

Sean said...


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