As much as we are excited about landing two rockets simultaneously or sending the red cars into space, we are also quite thrilled about the progress small Baltic countries do in space. It might be a little bit less ambitious, but equally important for the life of humanity. While American millionaires do their best to preserve human species in a third world war, Latvian government launches a capital-wide initiative to protect its citizens from air pollution.

This February, Latvia launched airTEXT service, that offers free access to regularly updated air quality forecasts for Riga.

The newly launched service is free for the public and provides information about air quality, ultraviolet radiation (UV), pollen and temperature in Riga and thus, is especially useful for people who experience respiratory problems, heart diseases, allergies or have a weaker immune system.

Riga airTEXT maps show forecasts of expected air quality over the next three days using Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS)

Brilliant Intentions

The Riga airTEXT service is based on an air quality modelling software developed by Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants (CERC), and data derived from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) Regional Ensemble air quality forecast as well as weather forecasts from private provider Meteogroup.

Riga airTEXT is a step forward for public health care in the Latvian capital. Therefore, national authorities encourage the residents and visitors of Riga to use the Riga airTEXT forecasts, for example, to plan their trips outdoors.

Air quality management is one of the key priorities of the environmental protection policy in Latvia and the EU. The provision of information on air quality to the citizens, including alerts on possible short-term pollution accidents, is an important element of this policy. Riga airTEXT is a good way to show that air quality is not only policy documents, legal acts, and scientific reports, but a vital factor in our everyday life, which often is taken for granted, while having a significant impact of human health. Now Riga citizens will have access to important air quality data presented in a modern and user-friendly manner.” says Alda Ozola, Deputy State Secretary of Latvian Ministry of Environmental and Regional Development at the inauguration of the new service.

The Riga airTEXT forecasts are distributed through different channels: Riga airTEXT phone application (downloading the Android App on Google Play), Twitter, Facebook, SMS text messages as well as through its official website.

But Poor Execution

We downloaded the airTEXT app and decided to test what “the modern and user-friendly” service looks like. The first reaction that came in mind was “Is my phone lagging?” However the phone was fine. The UI and UX of the app were not. See for yourself:

We compared the app to other Nordic weather mobile apps, such as Climendo, and we have to admit that the user experience and the overall look and feel of the airTEXT leaves much to be desired.

Riga airTEXT could have been a great example of space application used for a public good. For now, it remains in the very early stage and needs a number of improvements for the public to benefit from the data.

If you want to stay updated with the service and see how it evolves, visit Riga airTEXT website or follow it on Facebook or Twitter.

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