About the PRAISE-HK project

Q1: What is PRAISE-HK?
Q2: How does the PRAISE-HK system work?
Q3: Who is involved in creating and managing the PRAISE-HK system?
Q4: Are there systems like PRAISE-HK anywhere else in the world?
Q5: How and where does PRAISE-HK source its “big data”?
Q6: The PRAISE-HK project is based on the concept of “exposure science.” What is it, and what does it have to do with me?
Q7: I thought air pollution is only a problem outdoors. Why does PRAISE-HK track indoor air quality?
Q8: The government already runs an AQHI system. How is PRAISE-HK different?
Q9: Is PRAISE-HK supported by local environmental authorities?
Q10: How will the findings of this project influence policymaking?

About the PRAISE-HK mobile app

Q11: How do I use the PRAISE-HK app?
Q12: Where can I get the PRAISE-HK app?
Q13: What will the different phases of the PRAISE-HK project involve?
Q14: How much will it cost to use PRAISE-HK?
Q15: Does PRAISE-HK only work on mobile devices?
Q16: Should I be concerned about personal data security or privacy issues?


Q1: WHAT IS PRAISE-HK?

Personalised Real-Time Air Quality Informatics System for Exposure – Hong Kong (PRAISE-HK) is an innovative project with an ambitious goal: to empower people to effectively manage and reduce their exposure to air pollutants.

Presented as a user-friendly mobile app, PRAISE-HK will give you access to real-time and forecasted information about the air quality in your indoor and outdoor surroundings: your home, office, school, neighbourhood, even on your commutes.

The app will be personalised, using your unique health data and travel history to identify your individual risk profile and specific exposure risks.

 

Q2: HOW DOES THE PRAISE-HK SYSTEM WORK?

The PRAISE-HK app is powered by an advanced new system that we are building here at the HKUST Institute for the Environment. The PRAISE-HK system combines state-of-the-art sensor technologies, big data, air quality modelling system, and exposure science to analyse and forecast the air quality in Hong Kong, down to the street level.

Taking the outcome of this research and combining it with both the GPS information on your mobile device and the personal health data you provide, the system will then be able to provide air quality and health information tailor-made just for you.

You can access this useful information through the clean, easy-to-understand interface on the PRAISE-HK app, and take corresponding action.

 

Q3: WHO IS INVOLVED IN CREATING AND MANAGING THE PRAISE-HK SYSTEM?

PRAISE-HK is developed by an international team of experts from the HKUST, City University of Hong Kong, Chinese University of Hong Kong, North Carolina State University (USA), Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants (UK), and AECOM (HK). HKUST is in charge of data-hosting and database management.

 

Q4: ARE THERE SYSTEMS LIKE PRAISE-HK ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD?

At the moment, no. That’s precisely why PRAISE-HK is so ground-breaking. We hope that PRAISE-HK will pave the way for other countries and cities to develop their own air quality assessment mobile app.

Considering how many people around the world are falling ill or dying prematurely from air pollution, this project is extremely important and is in a position to help not only those most vulnerable (such as the elderly, children, asthma patients), but anyone who cares about staying healthy – so people just like you and me.

 

Q5: HOW AND WHERE DOES PRAISE-HK SOURCE ITS “BIG DATA”?

PRAISE-HK is built on huge quantities of big data analysis and air modelling experiments from multiple scientific and official sources, including:

  • HKUST’s own on-going air quality modelling projects, including a mobile air quality sampling vehicle, tram-based air quality sampling, indoor versus outdoor air quality ratio evaluations among different types of buildings
  • Traffic flow modelling based on information from Google Maps
  • Government real-time traffic flow information
  • Government real-time data from16 air quality monitoring stations around Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong Observatory’s real-time weather information and other urban morphology analyses of building density, height, orientation and ventilation corridors.

 

Q6: THE PRAISE-HK PROJECT IS BASED ON THE CONCEPT OF “EXPOSURE SCIENCE.” WHAT IS IT, AND WHAT DOES IT HAVE TO DO WITH ME?

“Exposure Science” is a relatively new area of scientific assessment that looks at the contact between humans and a wide array of stressors such as, in the case of PRAISE-HK, air pollutants. In assessing exposure, it is important to take into account “inter-individual variability.” This means that different people feel and react differently even under the same ambient air quality condition, based on real differences in activity patterns and other characteristics of one individual versus another.

These differences lead to variations in the frequency and duration with which individuals are exposed to air pollutants in different environments, such as at home, at work, or being outdoors.

The PRAISE-HK app will be powerful enough to provide each unique user with accurate personalised information about their individual exposure and health risks.

 

Q7: I THOUGHT AIR POLLUTION IS ONLY A PROBLEM OUTDOORS. WHY DOES PRAISE-HK TRACK INDOOR AIR QUALITY?

We spend about 80 to 90 per cent of our time indoors. So it should be worrying that our pilot studies suggest that harmful outdoor air pollutants can penetrate effectively into indoor environments and pose just as much threat to our health, be it in the home, in the office or in shopping malls. Opening windows and turning on air conditioners generally have a low filtration effect. Indoor air quality must be a part of the overall air pollution conversation.

 

Q8: THE GOVERNMENT ALREADY RUNS AN AQHI SYSTEM. HOW IS PRAISE-HK DIFFERENT?

The current data provided by the government’s AQHI is based on average pollutant concentration measurements taken from the EPD’s 13 general and three roadside air quality-monitoring stations in different districts, and corresponding short-term health risks.

While this is helpful, the numbers only illustrate a general picture about the air quality situation over a very wide geographical area.

PRAISE-HK resolves this by taking air quality (and hence, the health impact categorised in the AQHI) variations down to the street level. It computes total exposure and specific health impact on particular routes, making the information relevant to individual users.

 

Q9: IS PRAISE-HK SUPPORTED BY LOCAL ENVIRONMENTAL AUTHORITIES?

Our project is cross-institutional collaboration. We have the full support of the Environmental Protection Department for PRAISE-HK and going forward, the department will play an important role in facilitating cross-departmental information sharing to ensure the success of this project.

 

Q10: HOW WILL THE FINDINGS OF THIS PROJECT INFLUENCE POLICYMAKING?

PRAISE-HK is poised to be a useful tool for the public and for the government. Not only can it empower people with comprehensive data about air quality and associated health risks, the crowd-sourced data will give everyone a better understanding about Hong Kong’s air pollution problems as a whole. This information can prove extremely useful for government urban planning and policymaking.

 

Q11: HOW DO I USE THE PRAISE-HK APP?

Here are a few ways to use the PRAISE-HK app to lower your exposure risk:

      1. Plan travel routes according to real-time air quality readings and health risk assessment: The PRAISE-HK system is integrated with Google Maps, so you can search as usual for directions, plan routes and observe traffic, while obtaining real-time readings of the air quality and health risks in those locations.
      2. Find out the specific air pollutants that most affect you: The PRAISE-HK app can identify air pollutants to which you are most sensitive, helping you create your personal pollution risk profile. Using the app, you can see where these pollutants are most dense – the app will send you personalised alerts if you about to enter high risk areas as well.
      3. Plan activities based on air quality forecasts a few days in advance: The PRAISE-HK app is able to forecast air pollution levels up to 3 days, so you can plan ahead and schedule activities during low-risk times.

 

Q12: WHERE CAN I GET THE PRAISE-HK APP?

The first release of the PRAISE-HK app is expected in 2018. Join our mailing list to be notified when the app becomes available!

 

Q13: WHAT WILL THE DIFFERENT PHASES OF THE PRAISE-HK PRJOECT INVOLVE?

The PRAISE-HK project is being completed in three phases. This allows us to collect as much meaningful data about air quality and user experience as possible, so that we can keep the PRAISE-HK mobile app practical and state-of-the-art.

    • Phase 1, PRAISE-AQ, 2018: The first phase will focus on determining differences in air pollution among different micro-environments, down to the neighbourhood and street level. The first release of the app will provide the user with this information in real time.
    • Phase 2, PRAISE-HK, 2019: The second phase of the project will focus on further deducing air quality from indoor and vertical (elevated vs. underground) environments. At this stage, the app will be upgraded with the powerful capability to calculate a user’s daily total exposure based on their daily activities in different locations and at different times. This means you will be able to see which of your activities contribute to the highest potential air pollution and pose the most threat to your health. Another development in this phase will be an effective, dynamic user interface to collect your health information, which the system will then use to develop personalised functionalities in Phase 3.
    • Phase 3, PERSONALISED PRAISE-HK, 2021: The app released in the third phase will leverage the health information collected from active users to provide personalised health recommendations upon real-time and foreseeable air quality situations.

 

Q14: HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO USE PRAISE-HK?

Nothing. It will be free and accessible to everyone.

 

Q15: DOES PRAISE-HK ONLY WORK ON MOBILE DEVICES? 

PRAISE-HK is being developed for mobile devices (Android and IOS applications). In order to receive real-time air quality and health risk information, you will need to make sure your device is connected to the internet and/or activate your GPS for greater accuracy. You may also choose to manually input location information.

 

Q16: SHOULD I BE CONCERNED ABOUT PERSONAL DATA SECURITY OR PRIVACY ISSUES?

Data collected for PRAISE-HK will be for modelling purposes only and will not, under any circumstances, be shared to third parties for other uses.