Friday, January 25, 2013

World's Most Polluted Cities

Being number one is often a good thing, but having the worst air quality in Australia (according to The Economist) is not a title that many in Brisbane would want. Still at least we don't have to live in Ludhiana or Lanzhou.

Beijing is also currently experiencing a period of very dangerous air quality. According to The Economist:
BEIJING is frequently shrouded in dense, yellowish smog so thick that the other side of the road is obscured. But the deadly smog that enveloped the city over the past weekend was so bad that air-quality readings from a monitor on the roof of the American Embassy said simply: "Beyond Index".  
The embassy uses the US Environmental Protection Agency's air-quality index (AQI), which measures the concentration of PM 2.5 (total mass of particulate matter of 2.5-micron diameter or smaller per cubic metre).  
Such particles are small enough to be inhaled and can damage lungs. The AQI range ends at 500; at one point a reading of 886 was recorded. A reading above 100 is deemed “unhealthy for sensitive groups” and anything above 400 is rated “hazardous” for all. These independent readings have put pressure on the authorities to release more detailed data of their own. A year ago Beijing's municipal officials bowed to public pressure and started reporting data on PM 2.5 for the first time.  
But Beijing is not even the most polluted city in China. Using a different but more widely used measure collated by the World Health Organisation of larger particulate matter called PM 10 (total mass of particles of 10-micron diameter or smaller per cubic metre), which allows cross-country comparisons, that dubious honour is bestowed on Lanzhou in the north-western province of Gansu (and the city of Ludhiana in India is more polluted still).  
Better data may soon be available. This month China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection announced that 74 cities were to begin monitoring and reporting the levels of multiple pollutants, including PM 2.5, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and ozone.
According to the World Health Organisation, the popular refrain that China has most of the world's worst most air polluted cities is not right. The world's worst city in terms of the PM 10 index is Ahwaz in Iran, followed by Ulan Bator
Annual mean PM10 (Particulate matter with diameter of 10 μm or less), by city

Lanzhou doesn't even make it into the top 10!
When it comes to general pollution, China takes the top 2 spots.
According to Time Magazine, the world's most polluted cities (i.e. based not just on air quality) are:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Australia Compared: Still Better than Rest (especially in buying cars)

Looking at the graphics below on industrial production and car sales it is clear that Europe is still in deep trouble and that the United States is on a tentative road to recovery. Comparatively Australia is doing very well, particularly in the arena of car sales.

Compare these dismal figures for car sales in major markets with the long-term picture of Australian car sales. No wonder Australia is seen by international car companies as an important growth market, despite the relatively small Australian market.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Who Rules the Internet?

I recently started using DuckDuckGo (DDG) as a search engine. I'm always searching for alternatives to Google not because it's a bad search engine but because I worry about its dominance and its continual search for new ways to make money.  Its failure to pay tax also gives me pause for using it. It also annoys me that like Apple, Google tries to lock you into their systems and make cross platform usage difficult.

This led me to wonder what were the current statistics on search engines, web browsers and operating systems. Using DDG I found a fabulous website called NetMarketShare. Bear in mind that stats registered by various organisations can be very different as explained below.

All stats are divided between desktops and mobile/tablets and are for the week previous to this post.

While Apple dominates the mobile/tablet arena, Microsoft still dominates the declining desktop world. 

Mobile/Tablet Operating Systems - Share


Desktop Operating Systems - Share


Over the past year, iOS has declined and Android increased although its share of the M/T OS declined late in 2012.

Mobile/Tablet Operating Systems - Trend

For desktops, Windows 7 took over Windows XP in the middle of the year.

Desktop Operating Systems - Trend 

In the browser market Safari dominates for M/Ts, while Explorer dominates Desktop browsers


Mobile/Tablet Browser Shares

Desktop Browser Share

Mobile/Tablet Browser Trend 


Desktop Browser Trend

Unfortunately for those wanting definitive statistics, another major collector of web stats StatCounter gives remarkably different figures putting Google Chrome ahead of Windows Explorer. 


Over the longer term it's clear that Windows Explorer is losing ground the question is just how much!

Finally in the arena that prompted my little research task, Google dominates both M/T and Desktop search engine usage. 

Mobile/Tablet Search Engine Share

Desktop Search Engine Share

Google increased its share of the Desktop Search Engine market over 2012 increasing from 76% to 83%. Chinese search engine Baidu was the big loser according to these stats. Recently, it has been challenged by other Chinese search engines and has no presence outside of China. 

Google's share of the M/T search engine market remained relatively static.

Mobile/Tablet Search Engine Trend

Desktop Search Engine Trend 

Wikipedia provides a wealth of usage stats including a neat little graphic on the geography of web browser dominance. It also explains why we should take these stats with a sizeable grain of salt.

Usage Share of Web Browsers 

According to NetMarketShare mobile browsing exceeded 10% of total browsing for the first time in 2012, although these stats underestimate the growing importance of the mobile/tablet market because it does not include data on apps or maps. 

Browsing by Device Category

So the answer to our question is not exactly clear, but Microsoft still dominates desktops, Apple dominates mobiles and tablets and Google owns the search arena. 

Having been in universities from the early days of the Internet it seems clear that domination does not last. I remember doing a class in 1994 on downloading documents from the Internet and thinking surely someone will invent a device where I could just press a button to download. Given that I didn't take much notice of the elaborate steps of File Transfer Protocol I was fairly happy when Netscape made all browsing substantially easier. 

Netscape eventually succumbed to Explorer and now Explorer is under assault from a wide range of browsers. 

Good luck with guessing what will happen.