By Mark Chandler
In May, we began Operation Healthy Air in Long Beach. There was strong support from the Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach City College, California State University Long Beach, Saint Anthony’s High School, the City itself and many local residents. This was our first deployment of sensors. The feedback from local participants and partners helped us figure out how to best continue the program. We learned about the subtle (and not so subtle) temperature gradients that cut across the city, and the challenges in finding suitable backyards for the ozone sensors given how compact the downtown area of Long Beach is.
From the beginning of July through the end of September, we worked with partners to train and find interested community members across the Inland Empire. Partners included: Chino Basin Water Conservation Resource District, Riverside Corona Resource Conservation District and the UC Cooperative Extension for Master Gardeners. These partners hosted training events and supported our collective efforts to plan and support the setting up of sensors in local backyards, front yards, parks, and schools. Through discussion groups, we found that there is interest from community members in understanding the effect of landscaping on local temperature, as well as the influence of seasonal winds from the foothills.
As our Operation Healthy Air participants know, opportunities to engage in the “science” were quite varied—with some ways being quite challenging. Those of you who tried the mapping know! Thank you for all of your feedback to date. It has been a huge help in shaping our efforts going forward. Many of our participants had sensors in their backyard, while others wanted to do all of the possible activities.
Based on our preliminary findings, it seems that every part was useful. Many participants who collected in-home temperature data said that they learned a lot about which parts of their houses were cooler and at what times. They were able to use that information to decide when to open or close windows to move cooler air from outside when it was hotter inside.
For those of you who wondered if we lost any iButton sensors left on street trees, the short answer is yes, but not enough to create a problem. Working with incomplete data is a challenge that we face in cities, and we have some data analysis tools that help us overcome that.
We found the mapping component to be the most challenging. We are working closely with the developers of the programs and they are thankful to have all of your feedback—even those who were frustrated. We have seen interest from teachers in mapping, as it fits well with the science curriculum they need to teach. We hope that involving students could be helpful in finishing the mapping work that remains. If you are a teacher or know one who is interested in participating (regardless of your location), please contact Mark Chandler at email@example.com.
After spending time with community members, it is clear that there is an interest in figuring out how to create more livable cities.
There are several next steps planned. The first is to process all the data. Processing the data means putting it all into spreadsheets, cleaning it up (making sure it contains as few errors as possible), and then sharing it with partners and anyone who is interested in access to “raw” data.
We have much of the air temperature data from Campaigns 1 and 2 available for sharing for anyone who wants raw data. We have begun to incorporate some of the ozone data into a website where you can view the data based on which sensor it came from. We will share updates on this as they become available.
We look forward to sharing more results at upcoming workshops early in 2018. This will also be a chance to share what our plans are in 2018 for continued engagement.
We are also working with students from Claremont McKenna College who will be conducting a survey of all those who participated to better understand why you became involved and what your hopes for outcomes might be. This again will be very helpful as we think about how best to engage community members going forward. Thank you for your time on this.