Will I inhale coronavirus at this restaurant? There’s an app for that

Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward measures ventilation quality so diners can breathe easy


Update Chiyoda Ward, an area of central Tokyo, has created an app to help folks ascertain whether or not a restaurant is well ventilated and therefore less likely to lead to a COVID-19 infection.

The Ventilation View app relies on the presence of a CO2 sensor that Chiyoda Ward is giving away to businesses.

Once that sensor is installed, and transmitting data, the venue – be it a restaurant and or some other place – will appear on a map, complete with an air quality rating. A rating of 1,000 parts per million or lower of carbon dioxide indicates there's adequate ventilation to avoid coming down with coronavirus.

Chiyoda Ward ventilation view infographic

Ventilation View in action. Click to enlarge

Diners are encouraged to check the app before they pick a restaurant.

Chiyoda Ward covers Akihabara, a Tokyo district famous for mixing electronics shops with pop culture. The ward also houses many mega-corporations' HQs, the Imperial Palace, Japan's parliament, the Supreme Court, and many government offices.

Those facilities mean it has an enormous daily influx of commuters, tourists, and other visitors.

As part of its efforts to protect residents and visitors alike, the ward's COVID-19 management plan therefore includes elements not used elsewhere in Tokyo – including the CO2 sensors and app. ®

Updated, 12:45AM UTC, December 16th.

A reader named Alexander Riccio has been in touch to share his work on a similar project in New York City, using crowdsourced data.

Alex's Twitter feed offers more info on the project.

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