New app allows users to sidestep Sarajevo’s smog

Chugging engines, smoking chimneys and thick ambient smog. Air pollution is directly responsible for up to one in five premature deaths in 19 Western Balkan cities, suggest preliminary results from a report led by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Seven million people die from air pollution every year, and people living in 95 per cent of cities worldwide breathe air that fails to meet World Health Organization’s guidelines. In response, UNEP is helping cities transform their heating systems, supporting cleaner fuel and vehicles, and helping to monitor air quality, among other work.

In addition to supporting efforts to reduce air pollution, UNEP has launched the ‘Sarajevo Air’ app to help citizens avoid it while walking or cycling across one of the region’s most affected cities.  

Based on leading technologies and innovation from the London Air Quality Network, run by the Environmental Research Group of King's College London, the ‘Sarajevo Air’ app calculates the lowest pollution route between any two points in the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Users can type in their start and end destination anywhere in the city and the app will present two or three alternative routes with a clear indication of which route exposes the user to the least pollution, based on estimated levels of particulate matter (PM) concentration (PM10 and PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide, and ozone pollution.

“People may always have suspected that there are roads that are more polluted than others. We are now making the invisible visible,” said Andrew Grieve, who is a Senior Air Quality Analyst at King’s College London, and was part of the team that developed the app.