Numera Loka
Aug 12 · 4 min read

The unhealthy level of Jakarta’s air quality has been on the headlines and sparked a storm of social media criticism in recent weeks. Jakartans have frequently seen smogs covering Jakarta’s skyscrapers and we ought to wonder, how many days in a year did Jakartans breathe unhealthy air? How does Jakarta’s air quality fare against other cities? Thanks to the treasure trove of information from the AirNow U.S. Department of State, we at Numera Loka, were able to take a closer look at the air quality issue in Jakarta.

How Many Days in A Year Did Jakartans Breathe Unhealthy Air?

Using data from 2016 to 2019, we calculated the daily average Air Quality Index (AQI) in Jakarta. The higher the AQI is, the unhealthier the air is. Our analysis reveals that over the years the number of days with unhealthy air quality is increasing, with the exception of 2017. In 2018 there were 228 days where the average AQI exceeded the 100 threshold, classified as unhealthy for sensitive groups such as pregnant women, children under 5 years old, elderly, and people with long-term health problems. Now in 2019, with only a half of year behind us, there were 114 days already.

To reiterate, we take into account the daily average AQI in this analysis. This means there were times when Jakartans were exposed to more polluted air with the AQI far more greater than 100, even up to 180 at certain hours.

The following graphs below show the monthly variation of Jakarta’s air quality from 2016 to mid 2019. The daily average AQI tends to get higher in the middle of the year. The graphs seem to infer that air quality tends to get worse during the dry season.

Early Bird Catches the Worm, but Breathes the Most Polluted Air

The air quality level may oscillates throughout the day depending on so many factors. Some people work out or choose to commute early in the morning to avoid polluted air. How does this perception align with the data?

Again, using highly-disaggregate data from the AirNow U.S. Department of State, we further explore the hourly variation of Jakarta’s air quality from 2016 to mid 2019. Our analysis reveals that the air quality tends to get worse — meaning higher average AQI — during the night and early morning, as compared to the afternoon and evening as shown in the following graphs.

How Does Jakarta’s Air Quality Fare Against Other Cities?

Several analyses as described above highlight the state of air quality in Indonesian’s capital in recent memory, but how does Jakarta’s air quality perform in comparison to other cities around the globe? Using 2019 data, we were able to compare Jakarta’s air quality with the ones observed in Addis Ababa, Ho Chi Minh City, Mumbai and Shanghai. As can be seen in the following graph, Jakarta’s air quality is considerably worse in comparison to Addis Ababa and Ho Chi Minh City. The extent of worsening air quality in Jakarta throughout the month of May to July is particularly concerning as it was not the case in Shanghai and Mumbai in 2019 — the two peer megacities.

In sum, using highly-disaggregate data, we conduct several layers of analysis to shed a light on when and to what extent the relative condition of Jakarta’s air quality over the years. We hope this could provide actionable insights to uncover the smog.

Numera Loka

Curating ideas and research. Sharing insights on everything urban-related. Follow our research journey on

Numera Loka

Written by

Curating ideas and research on everything urban. Our mission is to provide insights for more resilient cities and stronger communities.

Numera Loka

Curating ideas and research. Sharing insights on everything urban-related. Follow our research journey on

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