The China Pollution Map

Website analysis in China: The China Pollution Map of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (CHIPOMAP)

The industrial development of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has impacted the quality of the country’s soil, water and air. Amidst political and economic interests in environmental preservation, local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and a range of new technologies play an increasingly important role in corroborating effective local implementations of the central government’s measures for pollution management. 

In June 2014 the Confucius Institute at the University of Geneva launched CHIPOMAP, a three-year multi-disciplinary project bringing together Chinese Studies, Science & Technology Studies and Risk Studies, supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation. CHIPOMAP investigates the role of open-access pollution-monitoring solutions within the environmental crisis facing contemporary China. In particular, it will examine the workings of one NGO: the Institute for Public Environmental Affairs (IPE) and its development of the China Pollution Map (CPM). The CPM is a software that gathers data on environmental violations provided by local Environmental Protection Bureaus (EPBs). The data collected is subsequently geo-referenced and made publicly available. Hereby the CPM becomes one of China’s most comprehensive cartographic databases of pollution incidents. In order to trace such developments in Chinese environmental governance, this research project combines (a) in-depth analysis of the technical evolution of the software for the China Pollution Map; and (b) ethnographic studies of IPE, EPBs, factories, audit organizations and other relevant parties and NGOs in China.

These two analytical approaches will provide a better understanding of the role of CPM for environmental monitoring and management in China. Moreover, the interdisciplinary make-up of the research team as well as the ever growing necessity to view environmental issues from an inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary perspective, will be the basis for numerous workshops, events and conferences related to the broad topic of environmental protection inside and outside of China that will be hosted by the Confucius Institute.

CHIPOMAP is led by Dr. Basile Zimmermann in collaboration with Dr. Christine Leuenberger (Cornell University, USA), Prof. Valérie November (LATTS/Ecole des Ponts ParisTech, France), and Prof. LI Lulu (Renmin University, China). For further details on the project, contact CHIPOMAP’s main researcher Dr. Matteo Tarantino (matteo.tarantino(at)

The CHIPOMAP project is funded by grant #153291 provided by the Swiss National Science Foundation.



Tarantino, M. "Competing Standards in the Communication of Environmental Risk in Beijing"In P. Maeseele et al. (eds.) The Local and The Digital, Palgrave MacMillan (forthcoming).

Tarantino, M. "Uncertainty in the Air: Communicating Urban Air Pollution"In Z. Krajina, D. Stevenson (eds.) The Routledge Companion of Urban Communication, Routledge, London/New York (2019, In press).

Tarantino, M., Zimmermann, B. (2017). “Database Green: Software, Environmentalism and Data Flows In China.” The China Quarterly,  3-2017.

Tarantino, M. (2016). "Mapping Pollution in China: an Update on the CHIPOMAP Project." In Blog Scientifique de l’Institut Confucius, Université de Genève. 


Conference Presentations


Is Pixellated Green a Clearer One? Promises & Challenges In Applying Software Studies to Environmental Governance in China. Chinese Techno-Futures – CHEW Conference 2019. University of Oxford, Oxford. May 31 - June 1.


Navigating the Green Datascape: The materiality of environmental information flows in China. Data, Technology and Digitalization & Environmental Governance in China symposium. Hannover, Volkswagen Foundation’s Tageszentrum Schloss Herrenhausen.


La Mappa del Cielo Blu. Ricerca Umanistica, Fonti, Strumenti e Metodi Digitali. Rome, Sapienza University, Italy. June 22.


Environmental Informational Governance: Some Implications & QuestionsICTs and Governance in China and Europe Workshop. University of Geneva, Switzerland. November 24.

STS-Informed Methods in the Study of Urban Environmental Risk Communication in China. ECREA 6th European Communication Conference: Mediated (Dis)Continuities: Contesting Pasts, Presents and Futures. Prague, Czech Republic. November 9 - 12.

Domesticating Standards: Environmental Policies and Dataspace Governance in China.  4S/ESST Meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science. Barcelona, Spain. August 29 - September 1.


The China Pollution Map: Databases, Software and Environmental Governance in the PRC. Meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science. Denver, Colorado, USA. November 11 - 14.

Mapping Local, Acting Global: The Pollution Map of China. Part of the international conference Association for Asian Studies World Congress. Chicago, Illinois, USA. April 28 - 31.