Sep 5, 2018, 10:00 AM, Posted by Trene Hawkins
A $2.4 million funding opportunity will examine how technology’s impact on infrastructure in the near future can improve health equity in the United States.
Louisville, Ky., has one of the highest asthma rates in the United States. To better understand this problem, community leaders blanketed the city with air quality sensors and equipped more than 1,000 asthma sufferers with GPS-enabled inhalers. They also downloaded traffic data from Waze, pulled in local weather information, and used manually-collected data on city vegetation.
Together, this data revealed that people used their inhalers most on days with high temperatures and high air pollution, and in areas with heavy traffic and few trees. Using this information, local leaders are now taking steps to increase the tree canopy and reroute trucks in neighborhoods where asthma is most severe. They are also exploring changes to city-wide zoning policies to improve overall health.
What happened in Louisville isn’t just a story of effective community engagement or savvy data analysis. It is an example of how technology can be used to shape our communities for the good—and with major implications for health.