If you’re a data journalist or a community activist and you haven’t heard of Pachube (pronounced “PATCH bay”), you should look them up. They’re trying to answer a question that no environmental group or government agency can answer right now: at any given time, how clean is the air in my neighborhood?
Pachube is about to pilot citizen-led air quality sensor networks in New York and Amsterdam. Pachube’s business is to become a data hub for the “internet of things” — internet connected objects and ambient sensors — allowing citizens to share meaningful data and learn from one another. Civic engagement is part of their mission.
The granular air quality data they’re attempting to capture doesn’t exist anywhere– you candownload a snapshot of air quality data from the U.S. EPA, but there’s no real-time stream and the closest EPA sensor is likely miles from your home. Or at least much farther than a DIY sensor you can mount outside your window.