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China to use drones to counteract high level of air pollution

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The “Yi Long” drone(image credit rt.com)

By NewsGram Staff Writer

In an attempt to fight the increasing pollution levels, China has started using drones for spying different industrial belts.

The drones have been recently used in Beijing, Shanxi and Hebei provinces to inspect for pollution.

“These are some of the worst affected areas of China, with a high number of coal-fired power stations, steel mills and cement plants”, said  Zhai Qing, the deputy minister of environmental protection.

According to the state-run China Daily newspaper, the drones have helped the ministry resolve over 200 environment linked cases and the ministry is considering more drone inspections in other areas.

“The drones were first introduced in 2012 for spying different industries. Now the ministry has four drones”, said Yang Yipeng, a ministry official.

“You can easily tell from the colour of the smoke – black, purple and brown – that the pollution is over the limit, because if smokestack scrubbers are operating properly, only white smoke is emitted”, Yang said in an interview with Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.

“There were too many chimneys like these, and the drones also captured pictures of flames in the open air and that is still only the tip of the iceberg.” he added.

“It was very difficult for the law enforcers to collect evidence of violations when they make inspection trips outside Beijing, because locals easily recognise them and polluting factories swiftly suspend production, leaving few traces,” said Yang.

“The drones, on the contrary, can catch them off guard as few people notice their existence”, he further said.

Greenpeace activist Li Shuo, however, feels that the government should focus on its policy and legal reforms better than spying.

“More monitoring and inspections are no doubt the direction to go. In fact, online emission monitoring systems have already been put in place for key enterprises in many provinces in China. Some data have also been gradually disclosed to the public.

The key here is to ensure these systems actually function and to expand the coverage to other places,” said Li Shuo.

“When the country has put all its effort to win premier Li Keqiang’s recently declared war against pollution, I would rather like to see one that involves less ‘wartime machineries’ but employs more systematic policy and legal reforms,” he added.

The environment ministry has also been thinking of using drones for spraying chemicals to counter the high level of air pollution. According to the plan, the drones will run for 100 hours everyday and it will spray chemicals to remove the smog from the air.

In the past, the drones were mainly used to gather evidence about environmental breaches.

Next Story

Facebook’s Push to Become China’s WeChat May Kill it

As people become increasingly aware of social media’s harm, social media will lose its lustre

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FILE - The Facebook logo is seen on a shop window in Malaga, Spain, June 4, 2018. (VOA)

Facebook which accounts for 75 per cent of global ad spend that is likely to hit $110 billion by 2020 is nowhere near an immediate demise and government regulations would only strengthen the social networking giant in the short term, a new Forrester research has forecast.

However, Facebook’s push to become China’s WeChat — more than a messaging app and is full of capabilities to make life easier for its one billion users — would be its undoing.

Facebook‘s no-good-very-bad 2018 may have meant an overworked PR team but the social media behemoth is doing just fine.

It continues to report steady user and revenue growth: a 9 per cent year over year increase in users in Q4 2018 and a 30 per cent increase in revenue in the same time-frame.

“The three parties that could impact Facebook the most — users, brands and regulators — will move too slowly for it to feel any instant impact,” said Jessica Liu, Senior Analyst, Forrester.

The coming years won’t be easier, but the social media behemoth won’t suddenly collapse either, as many predict.

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FILE – The logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York’s Times Square, March 29, 2018. VOA

“But while Facebook’s short-term outlook might be fine, its long-term outlook is bleak,” Liu added

Despite constant negative news last year, Facebook continued to report strong quarter-

over-quarter user and revenue growth. Brands that mishandle their own users’ data and fail to inform them typically falter.

While these users and advertisers could affect change at the social media giant immediately, they won’t, thus allowing it to continue to defy the odds.

“Enacting and enforcing regulation takes so long that Facebook will be able to shore up its assets and unique advantages in the short term and eliminate any vulnerabilities before serious user, advertiser, or regulatory changes materialize,” Liu emphasised.

The social networking giant with over two billion users globally, is facing regulatory challenges as the Cambridge Analytica scandal has exposed its lapses of data privacy and security.

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FILE – A man poses for a photo in front of a computer showing Facebook ad preferences in San Francisco, California, March 26, 2018. VOA

The downfall for Facebook, said Liu, would come with its desire to build an all-inclusive social media experience, as its CEO mark Zuckerberg is planning to merge all apps like Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram into one.

“Facebook’s hope to recreate WeChat, China’s largest messaging app turned all-in-one portal

to the Internet, presents long-term challenges,” Liu added.

WeChat primarily operates in a single country’s political and regulatory environment.

Also Read: South Korean Tech Giant Samsung Launches 2 New Tablets in India

“Facebook will need to tack on products and services to fulfill its one-app vision while global regulators threaten antitrust. It will also grapple with protecting user privacy globally while appeasing advertiser appetite for hypertargeting,” Liu noted.

As people become increasingly aware of social media’s harm, social media will lose its lustre.

“History has taught us that existing apps max out and then decline as users tire of the services or the company (like AOL, MySpace, Friendster). The Facebook app is already experiencing this; Instagram and WhatsApp will follow in a natural peak and then eventually decelerate, too,” Liu commented. (IANS)