How’s the air quality where you live? It’s getting easier than ever to find out.
Even though it’s been known for decades that air pollution like smoke and exhaust is harmful, in recent years we’ve learned a lot more about its terrible effects on human mortality, health, and well-being.
At the same time those concerned with climate change have started noting that reducing the use of fossil fuels will do more than mitigate global warming. In the US, eliminating air pollution from fossil fuels alone would save 50,000 lives every year.
Digital technologies that make information easier to share, along with advancements in air quality sensors, also means more people can learn how the air quality where they live changes over time and how it compares to other places. Both Apple and Google continue to make air quality information more available across their products.
What’s Missing? Hyperlocal Context
Now that more people have the need, desire, and ability to learn about the air where they live and work, providing the context for understanding air quality is more important than ever.
Unlike temperature or the chance of rain, interpreting air quality data is less familiar and not as much a part of people’s daily routines. While the Air Quality Index or AQI helpfully translates this data into a color-coded scale with a single number, how can you make regular use of this information and act on it?
We all know that weather varies across a region, and air quality does too—but more. Local geography and the locations of highways and industrial sites can have a big impact on nearby air quality. So how do you know where your local air quality data is coming from? Sometimes it’s estimated based on models and just a handful of sensors in the greater region, but it can be hard to know how close by measurements are being taken and how much they may differ from the actual air quality you’re experiencing.
Finally, how can you incorporate air quality information into your regular life? Like checking the weather. While more weather apps and services are starting to display AQI data, it can be difficulty to find and understand in the context of all the other weather information displayed.
Enter The Daily Breather
All of us at Temboo have spent a lot of time thinking through these issues over the years. We’ve learned a lot from working with environmental groups and helping them collect and understand environmental data with sensors.
That led to us to launch The Daily Breather—a daily email service that gives you air quality information for your location every morning along with relevant information and advice.
After helping groups like the Bronx River Alliance collect hyperlocal air quality data with their own sensors, we’ve then empowered them to run their own version of The Daily Breather to directly connect their communities to this local air quality data.
Why Go Local?
These local version of The Daily Breather are a powerful tool for our partners that run them and the communities they serve.
They make air quality data actionable and understandable. The emails are color coded so you can instantly recognized if it’s a bad air quality day.
They come in the morning as you’re starting your day, so you can plan your day accordingly.
And they are powered by readings collected nearby from a source you trust alongside other content, advice, and materials that they’ve customized to include in the emails.
In short, these local versions of The Daily Breather are actionable, local, and regular.
Why Not Care?
One of the more recently launched versions of The Daily Breather comes from Why Not Care, a nonprofit supporting the Lower East Side community in Manhattan.
Their air quality sensor near the Williamsburg Bridge collects seven data points (particulate matter (PM 1.0, PM 2.5, and PM 10.0), typical particle size, temperature, and relative humidity) every ten minutes. Every day thousands of members of the community receive a localized version of The Daily Breather email informing them about their local air quality.
With just a single sensor Why Not Care can provide a regular, automated service to their whole community.
Why Not Your Neighborhood?
Now we’re working with more and more community-based organizations to help them set up their own local air quality monitoring programs and their own versions of The Daily Breather for their neighborhoods.
Here’s just some of what these communities are getting out of it:
- Regular air quality readings from a low maintenance, easy-to-install, battery-powered sensor that Temboo will provide and help you set up in minutes
- Temboo’s platform to view both historical and real-time data online from any computer or mobile device
- Public dashboards that can be viewed by anyone in the community and that can also be accessed via QR codes displayed around the neighborhood
- Their own version of The Daily Breather email service delivering their air quality data to their community, customized to include the community organization’s logo and locally relevant updates and announcements
- An approachable, understandable, and human way to learn about the local environment
- A way to expand their reach beyond existing volunteers and committed supporters to reach a larger audience
If you’re part of a community that could benefit from all of this, get in touch to discuss how Temboo can help.