A crowdsourced mapping project, called Danger Maps, indicates pollution hotspots in China and is now expanding to cover other themes such as missing people and child abuse.
According to Bloomberg on Thursday, the Web site was started by netizen Liu Chunlei last year, to enable others to look up sites such as toxic-waste treatment facilities, oil refineries and power plants. Liu has also plotted about 6,000 pollution sources based on government data and user input on --China's version of Google Maps.
The site taps on the knowledge of China's 564 million Internet users to draw attention to environmental risks. Specifically, the site Usahidi.com, created in 2008 to track post-election violence in Kenya and Web sites tracking radiation after the Fukishima nuclear disasters inspired Liu's move.
In January, Danger Maps received a donation of 50,000 yuan (US$8,150) and an offer of technical support from the Alibaba Foundation, which supports groups working to preserve China's environment.
Liu created Danger Maps after realizing the Shanghai apartment he bought in 2007 was near a landfill, something he was not informed of when negotiating the purchase. He is now expanding his site by letting users add information to maps with other themes such as missing people and child abuse.
He pointed out he does not have significant problems with user data, and that Danger Maps has not received complaints from government agencies or real estate developers. He said he only deletes information which is false or libelous.
"The reason we started crowdsourcing is that if everyone can take action and add data, the level of accuracy may rise," Liu said. "We're not defining our image as being in opposition to the government. What we want is to create positive energy."
Industry watchers previously told ZDNetdue to the high uptake of mobile devices and social media among Asian workers but will also need clear and firm strategies and rules to ensure the process does not evolve into a hinderance.