Ann Dunkin, Chief Information Officer

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Smart City Air Challenge Awardees Announced

By Ann Dunkin, Chief Information Officer

In August, EPA launched the Smart City Air Challenge and asked communities to create strategies to collect, manage and share data from hundreds of air quality sensors. We understand what a challenging tasks this is and we’re pleased to report that 22 communities responded to the challenge. The depth and breadth of the responses reflect communities’ enthusiasm for managing air quality data and their commitment to collaboration.

We are proud to announce that the City of Baltimore and Lafayette, Louisiana, Consolidated Government were selected as the two awardees of the Smart City Air Challenge. Additionally, four other projects were recognized as honorable mentions for their innovation and potential: New York, New York; Mesa County, Colorado; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota.

The projects were evaluated on four criteria: data management, data use, sensor procurement and deployment and project sustainability. The two awardees will receive $40,000 each to deploy air sensors, share data with the public and develop data management best practices. After a year of implementing the projects, both communities will be eligible to receive up to an additional $10,000 based on their accomplishments and collaboration. You can read about the details of the challenge on the challenge.gov website.

We are excited to work with these awardees in the next year. Here are some of their plans:

Baltimore, Maryland: This community intends to engage several partners and neighborhoods to deploy a network of 300 ozone and nitrogen sensors in a phased approach, leveraging a scalable cloud platform for data management. They aim to assemble commercially-available components to build their sensor system and distribute the data on a City of Baltimore website. Partners in this project include Johns Hopkins University, BmoreCool and the Baltimore Office of Sustainability.

Lafayette, Louisiana: This submission proposed a partnership between a university, local government and a nongovernment organization to deploy a network of 300 ozone and particulate matter sensors. The project has a strong data management plan utilizing a scalable cloud platform. They plan to use commercially-available sensors for the project and make the data available to the partners and public in a variety of ways. Partners in this project include the Lafayette Consolidated Government, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and CGI Technology and Solutions.

We received many strong submissions, and we’re recognizing four additional projects with an honorable mention because of their innovation and potential:

New York, New York: has a strong sensor network and platform. The team plans to integrate air quality and weather data. The project has an indoor/outdoor air component and has the potential for other communities to learn from their experience with a network of 380 sensors and the management and use of the resulting data.

Mesa County, Colorado: has a strong grassroots effort with the community taking a proactive ownership role in the project. This project is in a geographically remote county, which will provide ideas for other rural or growing regions.

Raleigh, North Carolina: is a partnership between researchers and the community to better understand air quality, asthma and lung function. They proposed a sensor that is in a watch-like device that requires low energy.

Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota: hopes to collaborate with university, city and community partners. The project engages cyclists to carry the sensors, which will clarify pollution levels in specific areas of the cities.

We look forward to working with the awardees and honorable mention projects to share knowledge about how they collect, store and manage large amounts of data. This challenge is experimental in nature and we hope to learn how communities manage data using hundreds of sensors for non-regulatory purposes. The sensors will produce as much as 150 gigabytes of open data per year, which can benefit all communities and researchers. We will encourage these communities and others to share their findings so other communities can learn from their successes, challenges and findings.

I would like to thank everyone who submitted an application. I encourage all the submitting communities to implement your projects. Build upon the collaboration you’ve established with your communities and partners. Please keep us informed of your progress, because EPA and other communities want to learn about your successes and best practices too.

As I mentioned in the post announcing this challenge back in August, I firmly believe that data can make a difference in environmental protection. I look forward to seeing the difference Baltimore and Lafayette and the honorable mention projects make in the coming year. Communities, show us how it’s done!

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

EPA Offers up to $80,000 to Communities to Develop Air Sensor Data Best Practices

By Ann Dunkin, Chief Information Officer

SMART CITIES AIR CHALLENGE INFORMATION

Application Deadline: October 28, 2016
Announcement of Winners: Around December 1, 2016
Initial award: Up to $40,000 each to two communities to deploy air sensors, share data with the public, and develop data management best practices from sensors
Additional funding: Up to $10,000 each to the winning communities in 2017 based on  their accomplishments and collaboration.

To learn more, visit the Smart City Air Challenge website.

I came to the EPA with a firm belief that data can make a difference in environmental protection. Since I’ve been here I’ve found that communities are leading the way by using data to understand local conditions and operate efficiently. That’s why I’m excited to announce EPA’s Smart City Air Challenge.

This new challenge encourages communities to install hundreds of air quality sensors and manage the resulting data. EPA is offering two communities up to $40,000 each to work with their residents to crowdsource air quality data and share it with the public online. The projects will give individuals a role in collecting the data and understanding how environmental conditions affect their health and their community.

Air quality sensors are becoming less expensive and people are beginning to use them to measure pollution levels in their neighborhoods and homes. They’re developing rapidly, but most sensors aren’t ready for regulatory use. However, by networking these devices, communities can better understand what is happening at the local level. Communities will figure out where to place the sensors and how to maintain the devices. It’s up to each community to decide what pollutants they want to measure.

The prize funds serve as seed money, so communities will need to partner with other parties, such as sensor manufacturers, data management companies and universities. These partners can provide resources and expertise in topics where communities lack experience. In doing so, communities will learn how to use data analytics, which can be applied to other aspects of community life.

What does EPA get out of this? We’ll learn how communities collect, store and manage large amounts of data. We’ll also get a better understanding of the quality of data communities collect using sensors for non-regulatory purposes. We’ll see how communities transfer data from sensors to databases and visualize the results. Finally, the sensors will produce as much as 150 gigabytes of open data a year —data anyone can use.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy often says communities are “incubators for innovation.” We’re hoping the challenge will inspire communities to come up with innovative approaches for managing data so their residents and other communities can benefit. Show us how it’s done.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.