People living in the Gippsland Region, particularly those with asthma, are being sought to trial a new smoke tracking App called AirRaterSmoke.

The AirRaterSmoke App, developed by the University of Tasmania, will alert users when smoke levels are high in locations that they have selected as important to them.

In addition to providing air quality, temperature and fire location information, app users will be able to report health symptoms as well as whether they can see or smell smoke.

Asthma Australia is promoting the App trial, saying its important those with asthma get involved.

“Air quality has a major impact on our health, particularly for people with asthma,” said CEO of Asthma Australia, Michele Goldman.

“We are very interested in measuring the impact of smoke events on those with asthma.

“The AirRaterSmoke App tracks bush fire smoke, in real time using crowd-sourcing and mobile technology, which is the first of its kind,” she said.

Asthma affects one in nine people in Australia or 11% of the population and is triggered by many environmental factors, including smoke.

The AirRaterSmoke project team, led by Associate Professor Fay Johnston, is looking for up to 1,000 users in targeted areas across Victoria to install the app and report when they can see or smell smoke, and if they are experiencing any related health symptoms.

“We are looking for app users in communities where we have air quality monitoring taking place so that we can compare data collected via this monitoring and by the app users,” Associate Professor Fay Johnston said.

People living in the following communities are being sought for the trial – Moe, Traralgon, Rosedale, Churchill, Morwell, Mansfield, Ovens and those living in nearby communities of Alexandra, Wangaratta, Benalla and Tallangatta.

In conjunction with the App trial, the project team and the CSIRO are running education sessions with local primary school students in the region on how to make smoke monitoring technology.

“We are talking with communities where we have some related Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) projects taking place in primary schools,” Associate Professor Fay Johnston said.

“We have been out to schools in Boolarra and Anglesea alongside the CSIRO to teach children about air pollution and how to build SMoke Observation Gadgets (SMOG) to measure air quality at their homes,” she said.

To get involved in the AirRaterSmoke App trial, people can download the free App via Google Play or the Apple Store or by visiting http://smoke.airrater.org/

The AirRaterSmoke App has been built by the University of Tasmania in collaboration with the CSIRO and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

The project team is working with the EPA Victoria and Asthma Australia to recruit users for the App.