Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is now using its models to forecast the air quality across 41 cities in China. The software giant launched a mobile app that can project the air quality two days in advance for the cities that are under the risk of heavy air pollution.
More than just a weather app
Your Weather is a portal designed by Microsoft that works by fetching official data from government air quality monitoring stations across a 300 kilometer distance. With the help of the data it forecasts the pollution levels.
Weather data given by the app includes forecasts, as well current info on humidity, temperature and the wind for each city.
The app represents the data in the form of a colored map. Poor air quality is shown in red or orange, whereas relatively clean air areas are marked in Green. In Chinese, the app is named as “Xiaoyu Tianqi” or “small fish weather,” and was rolled on Android two weeks ago, according to Jacky Hsu, a program leader with Microsoft.
Hsu also said that the Windows Phone version launched just a few months ago already boasts of 150,000 users. An iOS version is in the works and will be available soon.
How the Microsoft app is different from others?
Yu Zheng, who works at Microsoft Research Asia, said that the company has enhanced the model over time. In Beijing the air quality forecasts have a 75% accuracy rate for a 6 hour forecast.
Though the app can be used to forecast the weather and air quality two days ahead, the accuracy level is not be very high. The app is able to give a range of max and min air quality levels for a city in a given time frame.
Microsoft is not the first firm to launch an air quality app in China, but the company has made efforts to give a more whole view of the pollution picture. Other mobile apps give public data from local air quality monitoring stations. Microsoft, however, made an advance effort to forecast the current air quality in each square km across a city.
At present, Beijing has 35 air quality stations, but even they do not cover the whole city, says Zheng. The Microsoft app can link the weather, car traffic and city density area with the state air quality stats to give likely pollution rates in each area of a city.