Giants “APP”-ly Their Experience and Expertise to School-based Clean Air Campaigns

Some of our app projects are intended to be fun or entertaining, and others are intended to be serious tools, but in either case it’s a bonus when the work we do can support a worthy cause. Idle free logoSuch is the case with an app we developed for the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency. Entitled, Idle Free, the app was commissioned to support efforts by schools to decrease the amount of local pollutants produced by idling cars. Although it may not sound like a big deal, the effect can be significant on young lungs, as reported by USA Today (Report: Idling buses, cars outside schools dangerous):

“The concentration of air pollutants near schools often significantly exceeds background levels in the community, particularly when idling school buses are present,” said Patrick Ryan, the Children’s researcher who was the lead author of the study. “Anti-idling campaigns are frequently attempted to improve air quality, but until now, no one has evaluated how effective they are.”

Previous studies have shown that children who live near expressways and other sources of travel-related air pollution such as particles and soot are more likely to develop asthma or have the condition aggravated by such pollution.”

Our task was to create an easy-to-use, but effective way for school personnel to track their anti-idling efforts. What does Idle Free do?

A peek inside the "Idle Free" app, a part of the Idle Free Schools Toolkit
A peek inside the “Idle Free” app, a part of the Idle Free Schools Toolkit

This app can be used to conduct observations of vehicle idling as part of an idling reduction campaign. The Idle Free Schools app easily allows users to accurately track many vehicles and their idling times, and will calculate the gasoline wasted and pollution emitted during the idling session. The app is simple and easy to use and adds a much higher level of accuracy over conducting the observations with old-fashioned pen and paper.

The Idle Free Schools app can be used on conjunction with the Idle Free Schools Toolkit, which includes everything a school needs to institute a simple, yet effective idling reduction campaign. Idling vehicles contribute to air pollution and emit air toxins, which are pollutants known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects. Limiting a vehicle’s idling time can dramatically reduce these pollutants and children’s exposure to them.

For more information on Idle Free Schools, please visit:

We hope that this has proved to be an effective tool for school personnel seeking to deliver accountability and measurable results from their own clean air campaigns. Has your school used the Idle Free app in your cleaner air efforts? Let us know!

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