Chattanooga, TN, May, 17, 2023 — A multi-community effort including Chattanooga and stakeholders in four other U.S. cities earned a 2023 Smart 50 Award for developing infrastructure to provide neighborhood-level air quality data and increase public understanding of its effects.
Each year, the Smart 50 Awards, in partnership with Smart Cities Connect and Smart Cities Connect Foundation, recognize global smart cities projects, honoring the most impactful and influential community work. The Smart Community Air Quality Monitoring Collaborative — encompassing Chattanooga, Tenn.; Cleveland, Ohio; Kansas City, Mo.; Salt Lake City, Utah; and the Pioneer Valley in Western Massachusetts — was recognized this week at the 2023 awards ceremony, in Denver. Local collaborators include The Enterprise Center, the City of Chattanooga, UTC, Hamilton County Schools and EPB.
Since late 2020, representatives from these five communities — thanks to a $125,000 pilot investment from US Ignite and the National Science Foundation — have worked collaboratively to address health disparities that arise in neighborhoods that experience higher rates of poor air quality, building local sensor networks to measure fine particulate matter (or PM2.5) in the air. These fine particles are small enough to irritate the respiratory system, cause short-term health effects and can have an exacerbating impact on illnesses like asthma. The sensors, about the size of a common smoke detector, contribute data to a live map of air quality for residents, medical professionals and researchers.
“US Ignite works with communities around the country to ensure that emerging technologies can help solve the most pressing civic challenges, and to improve the quality of life for our neighbors everywhere,” said Dr. Glenn Ricart, Founder and CTO of US Ignite. “It’s exciting to see not only this important work around air quality within communities recognized at Smart Cities Connect, but also the ongoing collaborations among them.”
Poor air quality and household air pollution exposure leads to diseases including stroke, heart disease and lung cancer, and the American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2023 report finds that “after decades of progress on cleaning up sources of air pollution, nearly 36 percent of Americans — 119.6 million people — still live in places with failing grades for unhealthy levels of ozone or particulate pollution.”
Particularly in areas where asthma rates are high or for residents with chronic illnesses, the technologies developed by Tellus Sensor Solutions allow individuals to gain more control over their health, providing them with the data to make informed decisions for themselves. Even in communities like Chattanooga, where the average air quality is in attainment with EPA’s current PM2.5 standards, conditions can still vary drastically from day to day and technologies like low-cost, simple sensors can provide vital information to individuals and healthcare professionals. proves to gain more control over their health.
“Environmental improvement has been a cornerstone of the city’s growth and its commitment to residents,” said Deb Socia, CEO of The Enterprise Center – a nonprofit that works with city officials, local neighborhoods, and healthcare and research institutions to leverage Smart City technology to expand access and improve health outcomes. “However, since several Chattanooga-area zip codes still routinely rank at the bottom statewide for asthma, other chronic illnesses and hospital utilization, developing data and a more granular understanding of air quality within impacted communities continues to be a high priority.”
“We’re excited to see this partnership recognized nationally,” agreed Tyson Morris, City of Chattanooga CIO. “We see Chattanooga as a model of how emerging technologies and data can be used not just to plan for the future, but to have an immediate impact on quality of life in our community today.”
Through additional funding from the Environmental Protection Agency in Cleveland, Salt Lake City and Chattanooga, additional air quality sensors are expected to be installed this year. To find out more about air quality, visit tellusensors.com/airview or access the data via the Chattanooga Open Data Portal.
About The Enterprise Center:
The Enterprise Center is a nonprofit economic development partner to the city, county, region and state dedicated to uniting people, organizations and technology to build an advanced and inclusive future rooted in community connection, with a focus on equity, collaboration and , economic mobility. and Smart City innovation.
With a goal of creating equitable, accessible and more connected communities for all, The Enterprise Center works collaboratively through programming like Tech Goes Home Chattanooga, EMPACT, the Innovation District, Chattamatters and more. to to promote access to technology and the internet with initiatives like Tech Goes Home, with more than 6,000 graduates and now serving residents across the State of Tennessee, EMPACT and HCS EdConnect; build pathways to success in the innovation economy through The Innovation District, workforce development programming and Floor Five at the Edney; and develop Smart City infrastructure and technologies alongside the Chattanooga Smart Community Collaborative and other partners.
To learn more about The Enterprise Center’s work and resources, visit theenterprisectr.org.
About Smart 50:
The annual Smart 50 Awards recognize the 50 most transformative projects globally – in partnership with Smart Cities Connect and Smart Cities Connect Foundation – to honor the most innovative and influential work. Find out more at spring.smartcitiesconnect.org.