App allows users to submit tips on polluters
Updated: 2014-06-19 21:31
By Wu Wencong (chinadaily.com.cn)
A new mobile application released on Thursday makes it much easier for members of the public to report sources of pollution.
The app, named "ecosnapp", allows users to upload descriptions of the time, location and pollution sources. Users can share photos, video clips and maps.
A group of environmental experts will examine and verify the materials and forward the verified cases to media and relevant official departments for further investigation.
Developed by the China Forum of Environmental Journalists, an organization affiliated with the Environmental Protection Ministry, the app has received acknowledgement and support from the authority, said Bai Zhijun, an official from the ministry's education and communication department.
"Environmental officials will deal with the verified cases and let the public and media know about the exact steps during the whole process through this app," he said.
First-time users must use their real names and cellphone numbers to register, said Liu Guozheng, secretary-general of the China Forum of Environmental Journalists.
"This makes it easier for us to contact the informer during the treatment process of the pollution cases, and also easier for the informer to claim rewards when the cases are verified. Personal information of the informer is safe with us of course," Liu said.
He said the rewards may come in forms of cash and the latest ecological motor vehicles, adding that those who are found to have given fake information on purpose will be blacklisted and banned from using the app.
Liu said "Ecosnapp" has several advantages compared with the traditional ways of providing tips.
"It allows the public to submit tips about pollution scenes they see 24 hours a day, regardless of the hotline staff's working hours," he said. "Also, with the help of photos, videos and GPS, the tips received will be much more reliable and easy to verify compared with those received through a hotline or letters."
Other competitive advantages he mentioned include allowing users to check the management status of the cases when they are uploaded.
This is the second official environmental mobile application released by environmental organizations since June.
On June 9, the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, a green NGO, published an app named "pollution map", which provides real-time air quality and concentration of six major airborne pollutants from 190 cities, and also hourly information on exhaust gases discharged by almost 4,000 enterprises nationwide.
All of the information on the map comes from official websites of environmental protection departments.
"The ‘pollution map' will be a useful weapon against polluters starting from Jan 1, 2015, when the new Environmental Protection Law takes effect," said Wang Jin, an environmental law professor from Peking University.
"The new law empowers the public to provide information on excessive polluters. The polluters could face jail time," Wang said.
The "pollution map" now only covers airborne pollution dischargers. It will include water pollution and heavy-metal pollution in the future, said Ma Jun, head of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs.
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