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Vietnam to Launch Its Own Air Pollution App After Netizens' Attack on AirVisual

Following what was described as a 'coordinated attack' by netizens on independent online air quality index monitor AirVisual, the Vietnamese government has announced plans to create its own air pollution tracking app.

According to Tuoi Tre, Vietnamese environment ministers plan to create a network of state-operated air-monitoring stations across the nation to provide an ‘official’ alternative to existing apps.

Le Hoai Nam, head of the Environment Ministry’s Department of Environment Quality Management, claimed the app will offer a more convenient way of accessing information that’s already being collected, and from a source that Vietnamese people can trust.

Hanoi will also increase its number of air monitoring stations from 12 to 32, while Ho Chi Minh City will raise its number of monitors from nine to 18 by 2020.

Last weekend, air pollution monitoring app AirVisual faced a sustained online attack after Vu Khac Ngoc, a Hanoi-based chemistry teacher with nearly 350,000 Facebook followers, claimed in an online post that the app was deliberately manipulating pollution levels in order to sell air purifiers made by its parent company, IQAir.

Ngoc urged his followers to leave negative reviews and, although AirVisual is now back online, the resultant threats that came from Ngoc’s followers caused the company to temporarily remove the app from online access in Vietnam.

Worsening air quality, often exacerbated in autumn by farmers burning their fields, led to a thick, gloomy smog descending over Hanoi in recent weeks. Around the same time, Hanoi saw it’s first-ever climate gathering.

Hanoi's air pollution reached its worst level in five years recently, according to a government report released on October 2.

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