The EPA is awarding a US$491,171 federal grant to the Enterprise Center in Chattanooga, TN to expand its air sensor program. The Chattanooga Leveling Environmental Equity Across Neighborhoods project initially installed 30 air quality sensors at local schools and community centers, and will now be able to add another 130 to provide more real-time, localized data on air particulates and other pollutants. The project is run by the Chattanooga Smart Community Collaborative, which includes the Enterprise Center, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Center for Urban Informatics and Progress, EPB and Hamilton County schools.
The grant is part of a $53.4 million nationwide initiative by the EPA, designed to enhance air quality monitoring in underserved and more polluted cities.
“These grants will give communities the tools they need to better understand air quality challenges in their neighborhoods,” EPA Regional Administrator Daniel Blackman said. “EPA’s investment in ARP (American Rescue Plan) funding will not only advance the agency’s mobile air monitoring labs and air sensor loan programs but improve the agency’s ability to support communities in need of short-term monitoring and air quality information.”
According to the EPA, the area that will be covered by the sensors sees higher than average levels of asthma, chronic illnesses, and hospitalization.
The Chattanooga area was also chosen because of its communitywide fiber optic network, which enables faster internet service for connections to all of the sensors. Live data visualization, health information, and educational resources will be hosted publicly for residents, and sensor data will be imported into repositories, such as Chattanooga’s Open Data Portal.
“As a smart community, Chattanooga relies on data,” Geoff Milliner, chief operating officer for the Enterprise Center, said. “Better, more granular data can result in better outcomes, especially when it comes to the environment.”