In a first of its kind, the California Air Resources Board has released a wildfire tracking app aptly named the California Smoke Spotter app (iOS) (Android). Although the app was initially released around a year ago, the app has recently been updated to provide a far more in-depth analysis of local wildfire conditions.
While the app does the basics you would expect - such as tracking wildfires and sending personalised alerts based on the user's location - it has another feature added in the recent update. This feature is a smoke forecast.
Using the air quality network of PurpleAir, the newly updated CARB app allows users to see real-time smoke conditions and receive forecasts for wildfire smoke in the coming day. While local AQI can be viewed on platforms such as PurpleAir and AirNow, the ability to see the air pollution forecast (based on wildfires) is a new feature that is bound to be very useful.
The Smoke Spotter app will also be important to a far larger range of people now. While wildfire flames impact people in a relatively small area, the health effects caused by wildfire smoke are felt by a larger range of people. Wildfire smoke has been found to travel as far as 3000 miles, and wherever you are in California, you could be impacted by the smoke emitted by fires.
As such, the Smoke Spotter app will come in useful for an extensive range of people outside of those at immediate threat of dangerous fires. If you are in an at-risk or sensitive group, this app could become vital during the summer months.
While the tracking of air quality is hardly new, the ability to forecast air quality based on wildfires is an innovative addition that will have wide-ranging implications for anyone in the state. Take the guesswork out of air quality forecasts and use the updated CARB app to plan ahead - cancel plans and stay indoors when needed, and don masks when staying home isn’t an option.