Israeli pollution app entrepreneurs to be feted at White House

BreezoMeter to add another award to its list of accolades as Obama recognizes its innovation and importance

(L to R) Ziv Lautman, Emil Fisher, and Ran Korber (Photo credit: Courtesy)
(L to R) Ziv Lautman, Emil Fisher, and Ran Korber (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Israeli entrepreneurs Ran Korber, Emil Fisher, and Ziv Lautman are to be honored at the White House Monday, when they will be lauded for their technology’s contribution to improving the human condition.

The entrepreneurs’ BreezeoMeter app caught the White House’s attention, said Lautman, because “air pollution is at the front of the stage, as the president recently launched the climate change action plan, that focuses on reducing air pollution emissions,” and BreezoMeter’s technology helps raise people’s consciousness about air pollution – helping them to avoid it and incentivizing them to do something about it.

The ceremony at the White House Monday will bring together emerging entrepreneurs from across the United States and around the world who have taken on some of the world’s toughest challenges – poverty, climate change and extremism, as well as access to education and healthcare. This event comes ahead of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kenya this summer, which US President Barack Obama is set to visit.

BreezoMeter’s technology shows how good or poor air quality is in a specific location — like right outside your house. According to Korber, who developed BreezoMeter along with Lautman, the app “takes information from pollution stations and extrapolates it, based on wind direction, speed, and other factors, to give an accurate reading of pollution levels even far away from a station.”

Currently in use in several cities in Israel, BreezoMeter looks at your location and determines where the closest stations are in order to make its calculations. The app may take data from three or four nearby stations.BreezoMeter’s algorithms check the information and match it up with weather data (also supplied by the stations), including temperature, wind information, time of day, position of the sun — all factors that can affect the pollution level. BreezoMeter then delivers a localized pollution reading. Korber says it is “99% accurate.”

“We developed it in order figure out where the safest place would be for my pregnant wife” on the theory that high pollution levels could cause physical or mental damage in fetuses or infants, said Korber. “Many studies have shown that high levels of pollution can cause damage in infants, and with BreezoMeter families can check if pollution levels are consistently high in a specific location before they rent or buy a home there.”

BreezoMeter has gotten several angel investments, as well as second and third round seed funding from Jumpspeed Ventures and Entree Capital respectively, said Korber. Going forward, Korber expects the basic BreezoMeter app to remain free, with additional capabilities available for a small fee; in addition, he expects to be able to partner with companies like real estate firms, health organizations, etc.

Several months ago, BreezoMeter was recognized by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) as “a company that “can contribute to address today’s social and environmental challenges, through new groundbreaking ideas that can become successful business,” said Lautman. “It was like a dream coming true. We suddenly felt the big responsibility of our mission as a company to improve people’s health.

“We were invited to present our work in front of the UN delegates in Geneva in mid-April,” said Lautman. “Speaking with the policy makers, air quality experts and other UN delegates was an unforgettable experience. At some point along our visit we realized how big the revolution that real time and accurate air quality data can make. People were amazed to see how we analyze air quality data at street resolution and the potential this data has for smart cities, health and more.”

The White House event is just the latest in a growing number of accolades for BreezoMeter. After being name a finalist at the Israel Mobile Summit last June for best app, and beating out apps from developers in Israel and 30 other countries to win the StartUp Open IL Contest in September, BreezoMeter in December was named one of the “20 hottest in the world” by American cable news network CNBC, one of a very select group chosen out of over 600 start-up ideas.

CNBC chose the app, the news organization said, because “BreezoMeter is changing the way people interact with the world, by providing them with the resources needed to make informed choices about what environments they inhabit.” The app, said CNBC, is one of the “big ideas” that are “part of an entrepreneurial revolution that is spreading to nearly every nook and cranny on the planet.”

For Lautman, the honors are very nice – but they serve a more important purpose. “It is a great honor to participate in the White House event because of our emphasis of the importance of air quality data. Fifty years ago Israel and other countries started the water revolution; now it is time for the air quality revolution. BreezoMeter is only the first stage but there is more to come. It is the first step in order to make the invisible visible, and we are proud to be the first solution that provide accurate air quality data.”

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