AIRNow: The Power of Partnerships

Earlier today, I posted a picture of a guy named Bill Ryan to EPA’s AIRNow Facebook page. Bill teaches air quality forecasting at Penn State University, and he’s been a big supporter over the years as EPA has worked to share air quality information with people all across the United States. Last week, we named him the 2010 AIRNow Partner of the Year.

As I was uploading Bill’s picture, it struck me: the great partnerships we have in the AIRNow program, combined with today’s technology, have created powerful tools for letting all of us know what we’re breathing right now – and what tomorrow’s air quality could mean for us.

EPA launched nearly 12 years ago, building off a mapping program started by EPA’s New England office to share real-time information about ozone pollution. As technology and our partnerships have expanded, so have the ways you find out about air quality where you live.

Today, in the Research Triangle, N.C., area where I work, I can get air quality forecasts pretty much any way you can imagine: on the AIRNow Web site, on local TV, from a state telephone hotline, in my local newspaper, or through EnviroFlash e-mails or tweets. If ozone or particle pollution levels are high, I can quickly find out how I can protect my health. And I can get a list of simple steps to take to help improve air quality where I live.

So can you! AIRNow forcasts and real-time data are available for more than 300 cities across the country. The engine behind this info is powered by more than 170 state, local and federal partners – all committed to sharing monitoring data and information so you can make decisions that affect your daily lives.

Every day, all year, our partner agencies feed real-time air quality data and forecasts to the AIRNow system. We send it back out to weather service providers and to national media such as the Weather Channel and USA Today. The National Weather Service uses the data in the air quality models it makes available to state and local forecasters, like Bill Ryan, who start the process all over again.

My local air quality forecast for Tuesday is Code Green – or good – for both ozone and particle pollution. What’s yours?

About the author: Alison Davis is a Sr. Advisor for Public Affairs in EPA’s Office of Air Quality Planning & Standards. This blog is part of an ongoing series about the EPA’s efforts toward the Open Government Directive that lays out the Obama Administration’s commitment to Open Government and the principles of transparency, participation and collaboration.