An air quality monitoring network developed and deployed by University of Utah engineers will now be installed in several other U.S. cities as part of a project to improve smart city technologies in the U.S.

The AQ&U network, which uses low-cost air pollution sensors, was designed by U chemical engineering assistant professor Kerry Kelly, chemical engineering associate professor (lecturer) Tony Butterfield, School of Computing professor Ross Whitaker, School of Computing associate professor Miriah Meyer, and electrical and computer engineering associate professor Pierre-Emmanuel Gaillardon. The small network devices, made from off-the-shelf computer parts and air-quality sensors, can detect particulate matter in the area and report the data to a central server. People can then see the air quality data throughout Salt Lake County in near-real-time at The network is being commercialized by Salt Lake City-based Tetrad Sensor Network Solutions.

US Ignite, a non-profit consortium of companies, federal agencies and communities dedicated to developing smart cities, will be deploying sensors and similar air quality networks in Chattanooga, Tennessee; Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas; and Cleveland, Ohio. Air quality professionals along with community leaders and university representatives in those cities will each receive a set of 50 sensors as well as a dedicated website that reports sensor measurements and service support from the University of Utah engineers.

Additionally, university researchers in Cleveland will also work with university hospitals to monitor COVID-19 cases in pollution-reduced areas versus areas where pollution has not seen as much reduction. Studies have shown that there may be a correlation between higher air pollution and more COVID-19 deaths. A focus on reducing air pollution in areas of high COVID-19 transmission may help reduce the infection rate in addition to improving overall air quality, according to US Ignite.

US Ignite has received a grant from the National Science Foundation to support the project.