New EDF Guide: Mapping Hyperlocal Air Quality to Drive Clean Air Action

Shows how hyperlocal air quality monitoring can help tailor solutions for air pollution

October 8, 2019
Sam Lovell, (202) 572-3544,

(COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Oct. 9, 2019) Environmental Defense Fund released a guide for cities, counties and other local organizations interested in using hyperlocal air quality data to tailor solutions for air pollution today ahead of the C40 World Mayors Summit. Making the Invisible Visible: A guide for mapping hyperlocal air pollution to drive clean air action offers information and best practices that can help leaders better understand their city’s quality challenges, how neighborhood-level monitoring can help illuminate them and how to develop a plan to significantly reduce pollution. 

“EDF’s new guide meets local leaders where they are,” said Sarah Vogel, vice president, Health, “whether they are just now considering hyperlocal air pollution mapping, already collecting data, or ready to turn their air quality data into smart, local solutions that clean the air and improve local health.”

Communities around the world continue to struggle with the health impacts of local air pollution. Global air pollution is now the biggest environmental risk of early death, responsible for as many as seven million premature deaths each year. That’s more than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined

Because air pollution is hard to see, it’s often difficult to target sources and trends needed to develop effective solutions. And while most conventional monitoring systems can provide a general sense of a city’s air quality, they can’t account for air pollution at the neighborhood level, where people live, work and play. 

New sensor technology is changing that dynamic, allowing us to measure and map hyperlocal air pollution concentrations and identify patterns and hotspots like never before. Mayors, city officials and local community groups can now see — block by block — where they face the worst air pollution threats and create solutions unique to their specific circumstances.

As momentum grows within cities to tackle the global air pollution crisis, we’re using new hyperlocal air quality data to drive clean air action. Over the past few years, EDF has worked with technology firms, scientists, grassroots organizations and city leaders to design and deploy hyperlocal air pollution monitoring systems that measure and analyze local air pollution levels.

This new guide offers a step-by-step process for project design, data analysis and policy development, including lessons learned about the budget, staffing, analysis, and logistics needed to monitor, map, and, ultimately, reduce pollution at the neighborhood level. It’s organized in three sections:

  • Getting Started, which examines specific air quality challenges and research tools and introduces how new insights can enable a suite of targeted solutions focused on investigations, emergency response, transportation and traffic, land use, and investments and incentives;
  • Nuts & Bolts, which provides detailed steps for designing a hyperlocal monitoring network, implementing the network, and analyzing the data; and
  • Data to Action, which outlines how to evaluate various air quality solutions, build community awareness, and measure progress of policy decision.

The guide is available for download here (and on C40’s new Knowledge Hub). It also includes a tool for estimating the cost of hyperlocal monitoring, templates and examples of other project materials like MOUs and RFPs, local case studies from our work with key partners in West Oakland and Houston, and more. For more information, please read our EDF+Biz blog post.



“Data drives action, especially when it provides a more holistic way of looking at a problem. EDF’s hyperlocal air quality monitoring effort is a great example of how using technology in new and innovative ways can improve lives.” - Karin Tuxen-Bettman, Program Manager, Google Earth Outreach

“It’s hard to tackle problems you can’t see. Hyperlocal air quality data could be a game changer for cities that have struggled with finding targeted, effective strategies to clean up harmful air pollution. It enables us to see — block by block — where the city’s attention is needed most, better understand what’s causing the pollution, then tailor solutions to meet these local challenges.” – Dr. Loren Hopkins, Chief Environmental Science Officer, Houston Health Department

“Mapping air pollution patterns at a high resolution can provide valuable information to target policy and empower citizens with data important to their health. This guide enables communities to ask the right questions, develop new monitoring studies, and reach for solutions that are available right now to clean the air.” – Iyad Kheirbek, Program Director, Air Quality, C40 Cities

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