FOSS4G-Asia 2023 Seoul

Air Quality Life Index (AQLI): A free and open Source global interactive tool that shows the impact of pollution on human life expectancy around the world
11-29, 14:50–15:10 (Asia/Seoul), Online Talks

Air pollution poses a significant health threat worldwide. As per a 2022 Lancet report (Pollution and health: a progress update), it accounts for 1 in 6 premature deaths, making it the largest environmental risk factor for disease and premature mortality. This impact is especially severe for residents of low and middle income countries. Despite being pervasive, air pollution is often accepted as an unavoidable reality, forcing us to endure its detrimental health effects.

How can we effectively bridge this gap and nudge both public and policy makers alike to take action on the silent killer that is air pollution?

The AQLI tool is a free and open source interactive tool that attempts to address this global health crisis by estimating the relationship between PM2.5 and Life Expectancy allowing anyone to interactively visualize and explore the average gain in life expectancy they could experience if their community met the WHO PM2.5 guideline. AQLI also publishes an Annual Report and various regional factsheets. All of these resources, alongside our methodology, can be found on our website (

So far, the AQLI tool has been used in 216 countries by over 300,000 users. This user base includes (but is not limited to) policy makers (e.g. Indian Member of Parliament, Vandana Chavan used the AQLI tool to demand a change in the India Air Act, 1981), air pollution activist groups (e.g. the Thailand Clean Air Network using AQLI to push for Clean air law in Thailand), environment conservation societies, medical professionals, geospatial community, academic researchers, teachers, students from both schools and colleges. In 2022 alone, AQLI has been cited in the New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, Reuters, the Times of India (the largest selling English-language daily in the world), notices of National Human Rights Commision in India and many other outlets globally.

The AQLI geospatial data processing pipeline combines three free and open source datasets using the R programming language. It overlays high-resolution population (landscan: and pollution rasters (ACAG: onto a rasterized global shapefile (GADM: The resulting data is collapsed to generate regional datasets for further analysis..

Over the last year in our move towards fully open source, we have worked on a complete transition of our current codebase to R, all of which can be accessed via our organizational GitHub page ( It’s easier now more than ever for anyone to explore both AQLI’s underlying geospatial data pipelines and its finished results (e.g. aqverse R package:

We have witnessed first hand the ability of a publicly available geospatial tool in raising awareness about a major health crisis. In the coming months, we are planning to add additional layers, show higher resolution data among other things and in doing so both contribute towards and leverage from the wider foss4G community.

I am working as a Research Associate in the Air Quality Life Index project at EPIC India (Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, India center in Delhi) since 2021. Prior to this, I was working as a RA in a Health Economics setup. I am also the founder of the Polyhedra Appreciation Society.