Smell PGH lets you report weird smells in Pittsburgh

Today in odd apps I present Smell PGH, an app that lets you report weird smells in Pittsburgh. Why would you do this, you ask? Well hold on.

“If you smell something bad in the air, chances are that air isn’t good to breathe,” said Beatrice Dias, project director for the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute’s CREATE Lab. “Smell PGH provides a way for citizens to both report unhealthy air to authorities who can investigate it and alert other users so they can avoid it.”

In other words, if you smell something, say something. The project is part of a wider effort to assess air quality through a semi-automated system and was created by the CMU Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment Lab, a group dedicated to creating a more technologically fluid generation and empowering citizens and scientists.

The app, which is free for iOS and Android, has already been used by 1,300 people to report 4,300 odors. You can rate the smell based on “nature and intensity” and you can even receive alerts if things are extra stinky.

Pittsburgh folks seem to love it.

“The Smell PGH app is both simple and powerful,” said Mark Dixon, a filmmaker in the ‘Burgh. “The app’s reports are surprisingly well-correlated to air pollution monitors that I keep on my front porch, reassuring me that the devices are measuring meaningful information and that there is a community of air quality-minded citizens out there who share my concerns.”

Considering Pittsburgh once had awful air quality thanks to coal and steel industry, it’s no wonder folks are still worried about stinky air. The app is not yet compatible with other geographic locations, but I’m sure they could simply change a few words in the app to create WhiffWierton, InhaleIdaho, or SniffScranton.