How Communities Are Crowdsourcing Air Quality Data to Benefit Everyone

 Crowdsourcing Air Quality Data

Dangerous levels of air pollution can come from anywhere and happen at any time.   

Yet, many still don’t have the tools to protect themselves from it.  

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), local governments often station air quality monitors only in the more populated or polluted areas. As such, multiple small towns and communities don’t have air quality monitors.   

Thankfully, the solution is already at hand.   

With the advancements in air quality technology, communities can purchase low-cost air quality monitors and access crowdsourced air quality data—any time of day. This allows them to make life-saving data-driven decisions on a hyper-local level.  

Today, we’ll discuss how crowdsourcing air quality data into accessible formats like the PurpleAir Map can benefit communities, governments, researchers, and even individuals. 

What is Crowdsourced Air Quality Data? 

Crowdsourcing air quality data happens when air quality organizations collect information from a large group of individual air quality monitors to create denser, more accurate air quality maps. One such example is the PurpleAir Map.  

To date, this air quality map has crowdsourced data from over 300,000 PurpleAir air quality monitors around the world. That means it is one of the most extensive air quality networks available.  

Now, everyone can access hyper-local, real-time air quality data that allows users to:  

  • Better identify the sources of air pollution in their neighborhood. 
  • Take appropriate action to protect themselves from the harmful effects of air pollution
  • Conduct experiments to further air quality research across the globe. 
  • Innovate effective solutions to improve local air quality for all. 

3 Communities Using Crowdsourced Air Quality Data  

As crowdsourced air quality data becomes more accessible, researchers, government agencies, and organizations can use it to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the air quality around them.   

Here are 3 real-life examples of communities using crowdsourced air quality data and benefiting from it.  

#1 – Alaska Community Action on Toxics  

Working to protect Alaskan communities, the Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT) wanted to identify sources of air pollution in their region. So, they invested in PurpleAir quality monitors and built a local air quality network.

In doing so, they gained new insights into how landfills affect local air quality. Thanks to this, they can push policymakers for more stringent regulations on waste disposal.  

#2 – The Local Government of Northwest Territories, Canada  

The Northwest Territories is known for its wildfires that affect the health of thousands of residents each year. Despite this, its air quality warnings are often slow and lacking.

As a solution, the local government created an air quality monitoring program by leveraging crowdsourced air quality data to develop more agile health-risk advisories. 

#3 – Academics in Los Angeles, USA  

Sadly, professional-grade air quality monitors are limited and expensive. This means researchers can’t gain accurate insights into local air quality. To close the data gap, a team of academics in Los Angeles turned to crowdsourced air quality data from reliable air quality monitors.

In turn, they produced a machine-learning model that predicts local air quality for up to a week.  

3 Steps to Start Crowdsourcing Air Quality Data 

Wondering how you can help your own community and crowdsource air quality data?  

Here are 3 steps you can take today: 

  • Step 1: Invest in air quality monitors to help increase data collection in your area. You can also use this to start conversations on air quality with your family, friends, and neighbors. 
  • Step 2: Partner with local governments and air quality organizations to raise funds for an air quality network. 
  • Step 3: Share air quality news and join programs to educate your community on the importance of air quality. 

Connect With PurpleAir  

At PurpleAir, there are tons of organizations and researchers around the world using our data—from Google to the EPA. We’re thrilled to see research like this being used to help local neighborhoods, and we look forward to seeing plenty more in the future.  

Are you a technology company or institution looking to work with PurpleAir?  

We’d love to connect and see how we can help you. Whether you’re interested in our air quality monitors or using our air quality data for your projects, feel free to reach out.