The Black Cloud: Using Games to Understand Air Quality

September 4, 2008
Human behavior and land use affect air quality, and those effects are very distinct at the local level. A new environmental game fusing public participation, air quality sensors and web technology shows how.

Cities are polluted places, and everyone knows it. Beijing is just coming out of a month-long media barrage on the city's poor air quality. Los Angeles, the original City of Smog, has been hearing it for decades. And though the existence of pollution is well known, it's not so well understood.

In L.A, the city as a whole could be considered a polluted place, but the level of pollution actually varies from neighborhood to neighborhood, and sometimes even street to street. These local differences don't often play into the common perception of environmental issues like pollution or global warming, according to Greg Niemeyer, an associate professor at the University of California Berkeley's Department of Art Practice. He's hoping to change that perception...