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Understory gives city leaders tools to improve air quality, weather

The Madison-based company is using its weather and air quality network to help urban areas reduce air pollution through Project Atmosphere.

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Breath of fresh air

Kubicek says Understory’s goal with Atmosphere from the start has been to provide air quality data that helps cities allocate resources and make better decisions for the health of their citizens and businesses.

“We hope that with our hyper local, real-time data, civic leaders will pinpoint the sources of pollution and initiate air quality improvement strategies, which can range from regulating traffic, enabling tolls, and HOV lanes to administering health warnings for residents,” Kubicek explains. “When these policies are guided by data, you can strike the balance of economic and environmental benefits. For example, tolls can be used to smooth out the morning commute, incentivizing traffic to not all come into a downtown area at the same time.”

For citizens living in cities with frequent smog warning, Kubicek says the effect of bad air quality can result in the exacerbation of respiratory health conditions, such as asthma or even a decline in workplace productivity.

“Although the economy and air quality don’t appear to go hand in hand on the surface, they absolutely do,” Kubicek notes. “The result of civic leaders enacting improvement strategies and passing policies that directly impact what goes into the air we breathe has the potential to not only improve the quality of life for everyone, but can also curb air-pollution’s negative effect on health. With Atmosphere, city leaders can for the first time understand the dynamics of major air pollutants in their city in real time, and then take informed, measurable actions to improve the quality of the air we breathe and create cleaner, more livable cities.”

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