KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17 – Smoke gets in your eyes. That’s the classic tune from The Platters, but ask any Malaysian and they’d tell you it’s just the air quality these days (or lack thereof).
Despite the clear and present hazard to health, many Malaysians have grown blasé to the situation as it has become almost an annual event.
There is a pervasive sense of helplessness, of not being able to do much about it.
This apathy was the impetus for Nattu Adnan, the 35-year-old CTO of an animation company, and Suresh Tan, a 30-year-old manager at an MNC, to create HazeMalaysia.com.
The website, built over this past long weekend, is designed as a haze tracking portal that would be more useful for Malaysians.
At present, most people use API numbers as a popular metric to track the pollution level. Through the use of visuals, however, the duo hopes to demonstrate the severity of the haze condition and motivate users to take protective action.
According to Suresh, “Despite various warnings, we still see Malaysians walking around without proper masks even when the air quality has dropped to unhealthy levels.
"We want to create awareness on expected symptoms of exposure, as well as a reminder the public to wear the right kind of mask.”
Beyond tracking the air quality, the website also educates users on what different levels of API does to the body.
The duo reasons that a better informed public would be more likely to take precautionary steps as they go about their day.
Nattu shares, “Some users were intrigued by the information we shared, for example the quality of air in the car is actually not as clean as perceived.
"And it prompted them to consider wearing masks while driving, or getting an air purifier for their car. We are glad users are having these revelations, so will definitely focus to make more information like this available in the upcoming updates.”
Another helpful feature is the Cigarette Scale, which shows the air quality relative to cigarettes.
To encourage constructive engagement, the portal also has a social commentary section so visitors can share tips and tricks on beating the haze, as well as being updated on actions taken at various levels to overcome this crisis.
Since its launch, the HazeMalaysia.com portal has had over 2,000 visitors. Suresh notes that it’s evident through the social media chatter that they found the graphics useful and educational.
He adds, “Users wanted a forecast of the API rating, so they can plan their day better. Also, the rating has been the driver for our organic growth, so we’d like to see how we can make it easier for it to be shared among friends.
"We built the portal with love, and hope Malaysians are more aware on how to protect themselves throughout this challenging period.”