Louisville — Known For Its Dirty Air — Is Using Big Data To Help Residents Breathe

Nov 29, 2017

In Louisville, Kentucky, traditionally known as a hotbed of air pollution and an uncomfortable place to live for a person with asthma, a community-run study is using big data to figure out how to make its residents healthier.

Air Louisville is the subject of an in-depth profile from Politico Magazine, which examined how the study used specially-equipped inhalers to record information about city dwellers’ health and environmental pollution levels.

While the study is run by a local nonprofit organization, the project has big support from the city’s mayor, who says that it’s important cities learn to harness the information age to create better health outcomes, especially as federal agencies become more reticent to take on environmental issues:

Fischer said that for many mayors like him, the federal government’s antagonism to environmental regulation was an obstacle cities would have to steer around. “Cities are platforms for innovation: What other experiments and pilots could we run around the country to increase population health?” he asked. “We’re at a new point with these new tools we have to do this.”

The story also looks at the ginger dance environmentalists and city officials need to choreograph around the area’s biggest industries — coal, bourbon and chemicals — which are also some of the city’s largest polluters.

How Bourbon and Big Data Are Cleaning Up Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky-Two years ago, Mary Ann Stansberry responded to an ad that popped up on her Facebook page asking for people to participate in an asthma study. A start-up company called Propeller Health was running the program, and it sent her silicon chips in sleeves to slip over her inhalers, and apps to put on her phone and laptop.