#SGHaze explained

#SGHaze explained

Organisation: The Straits Times (Singapore)

Publication Date: 04/09/2016


Size of team/newsroom:large


The haze in Singapore reached very unhealthy levels for the better part of a month over September and October 2015. The last time it reached these levels was in June 2013. The Straits Times looked at what was causing it and how people living in Singapore can protect themselves from the ill-effects of the haze with this interactive tool. The first interactive element is the current pollutant standards index (PSI) in each region of Singapore as supplied by the National Environment Agency's (NEA) API. The NEA provides a legend to determine current air quality ranging from healthy to hazardous but only for the 24-hour rolling average. We have included the 3-hour rolling average in a separate tab which the NEA also provides through their API but the air quality legend doesn’t apply to this index. There is much debate in Singapore about accuracy with many calling for a 1-hr spot PSI to be officially reported. Beneath this, we have been collecting the historical 24-hour PSI rolling average data for every hour since Sept 1, 2015. This data was being scraped from the NEA website into a Google Sheet that was providing automatic hourly updates to this chart - it has now been converted into an auto-updating tool using the NEA's API. Then, we have a very unique CartoDB map. Using the resources available to us through the World Resources Institute (WRI)’s Global Forest Watch – Fires database (http://fires.globalforestwatch.org/), we are able to connect a live dataset of NASA hot spots to the CartoDB map. We have also included near real-time wind direction data to show how smoke from the peat fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan are reaching Singapore. Finally, we have a series of illustrations that were originally published in print to help explain this topic in more detail. Essentially, we have ‘recycled’ these very informative infographics into an SVG and responsive format.

What makes this project innovative? What was its impact?

It has turned into a news application because of its ability to connect with real-time data. Our users can go to this page at any time and instantly see PSI levels, hot spots data and wind direction to assess hazards to their health - we then provide a quick reference guide for readers to take the necessary protective measures.

Technologies used for this project:

This is a custom built website and is fully responsive using HTML, CSS and JavaScript. It uses CartoDB and its real-time data interface for the map. It also has a Twitter feed from the @NEAsg for even more frequent updates.


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