EPA opens its Smart City Air Challenge

EPA opens its Smart City Air Challenge

The Environmental Protection Agency wants to learn how to better collect, manage and understand air quality information from data-generating sensors.

To get that insight, EPA has issued a Smart City Air Challenge, which will award two communities that demonstrate the best air quality data collection and sharing strategies with up to $40,000 each as seed money.

To qualify, communities must submit strategies for procuring and installing 250 to 500 local air-quality sensors and describe how they will manage and share the data they collect.

Submissions will be judged based on sensor procurement and deployment, community involvement, data transparency as well as project sustainability and identification of partners.

The award money will cover only part of the program costs, EPA said, so communities should partner with sensor manufacturers, data management companies or others to get resources and expertise to implement their plans.

By crowdsourcing air-quality data collection, management and sharing, individuals become stakeholders in the project and will learn how environmental conditions affect their health and their community, EPA CIO Ann Dunkin wrote in a blog post.  

The challenge will give EPA a  better sense of how communities collect, store, transfer and manage data, and the quality of data collected using non-regulatory sensors, which are expected to produce up to 150 gigabytes of open data a year.

Air-quality sensor technology is already being deployed in  Chicago’s “Array of Things” project that monitors a variety of environmental factors with sensors and cameras mounted on light poles.

Last year, EPA provided five cities with Village Green park benches that feature solar-powered air monitoring technology. The data is streamed to the project website, and citizens can access real-time local air-quality information from displays on the benches.

The EPA will be accepting submissions for its Smart City Air Challenge through Oct. 28.

About the Author

Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.

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