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Safa Hawa app launched to provide hourly air quality of Valley

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KATHMANDU — A new mobile application, Safa Hawa, has been launched to provide information regarding the current hourly updates on the quality of air prevailing in different areas of the city.

The US Ambassador to Nepal Alaina B Teplitz and Department of Environment (DoE) Director General Durga Prasad Dawadi have jointly launched the app on Thursday.

Developed by Bidhee Pvt Ltd with the support of the US Embassy in Nepal, Safa Hawa app users will receive information on PM 2.5 and ozone content recorded by two air-quality monitoring stations — one installed at the US Embassy premise another in Thamel.

Users can download the free app, available for both iOS and Android platforms in Nepali and English languages. It will update air-quality details every hour and send notifications and share health tips too, according to the developer.

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Ambassador Teplitz, speaking at the launch event, said the app would accelerate the move for the healthier Kathmandu, especially at the time when South Asian countries like Nepal struggle with severe air-pollution issues.

“Even without the necessary studies and data, everyone knows Kathmandu’s air quality is bad. We can see it and feel it almost every day. The questions are: How bad is it? And more importantly: What can we do about it?” she said.

Ambassador Teplitz further said that country’s poor air affects not only the health of citizens, but also other sectors like business and tourism. She hoped the information on air through the app would help the government deal with the deteriorating quality of air in the country, mainly in Kathmandu Valley.

Likewise, the DoE DG Durga Prasad Dawadi hoped the mobile application would soon disseminate data collected from all the air-quality monitoring stations of the government.

The global Environmental Performance Index (EPI), released in January, ranked Nepal last for the quality of air among 180 countries.

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Google+ to shut down after private data of about 500,000 users exposed

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KATHMANDU — Alphabet Inc’s Google is going to shut down the consumer version of its failed social network Google+ and tighten its data-sharing policies after announcing that private profile data of about 500,000 users may have been exposed to hundreds of external developers, the company said on Monday.

Google, however, kept silent for more than six months its discovery of a bug that put at risk the personal data of hundreds of thousands of Google+ users.

The issue was discovered and patched in March as part of a review of how Google shares data with other applications, Google said in a blog post.

But the delay until October in revealing the incident could reignite long-standing complaints from federal and state officials that tech giants such as Google are reckless with user privacy.

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Google feared disclosure would invite comparison to Facebook’s leak of user information to data firm Cambridge Analytica, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier.

The Journal reported that Google opted not to disclose the security issue at the time due to fears of regulatory scrutiny, citing unnamed sources and a memo prepared by Google’s legal and policy staff for senior executives, adding that chief executive Sundar Pichai had been briefed on the issue.

Google announced in its blog post Monday that it will mostly discontinue Google+ limiting it to only business and other enterprise customers.

The search engine giant has also announced new curbs on the information, such as call logs and contact lists, that outsider developers can gather on Android, the Google operating system used by most of the world’s smartphones. And it will also impose new limits on the data shared about users of its popular email service, Gmail.

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