Community Environmental Monitoring in the United States: A Work in Progress

  • The low-cost sensors are not as precise or as reliable as agency monitors, which undergo extensive review before being approved for regulatory purposes. Knowledge of the quality of data from these sensors is uneven, as technology changes frequently.
  • Generating actionable data also requires a scientifically rigorous research design. The fact that data is being collected by non-professionals also makes agencies cautious about using it.
  • Private air quality monitoring has been done by advocacy groups. Agencies often are wary of relying on groups they perceive as having an agenda.
  • Communities facing serious air pollution problems often view agencies with distrust, making collaboration difficult.
  • Identifying a range of ways data can be used, and the type of data required for each use.
  • Testing new sensors, and describing the uses they may be appropriate for.
  • Providing direct training, equipment, guidance on research designs and proper data gathering protocols.
  • Taking into account the contribution to data quality of crowdsourcing; data from a large number of low-cost sensors will likely be more reliable than a test of any one sensor would indicate.



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Open Environmental Data Project

Open Environmental Data Project

Building environmental hardware interoperability while changing the way data is shared, verified & used. Learn more at