NEW BEDFORD (WBSM) — New devices are being installed on poles around the City of New Bedford, and you may wonder exactly what they are all about.

They’re air quality monitors, designed to test the cleanliness of the air throughout the city.

How exactly do they do it, and what can we expect from the data they collect? Here’s what you need to know.

Who Is Installing the Air Quality Monitors in New Bedford?

The installation of the monitors is a partnership between the City’s Office of Resilience and Environmental Stewardship and Groundwork Southcoast. The sensors are manufactured by Massachusetts-based technology provider QuantAQ.

“The initiative is one of 132 nationwide to be funded through grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2022 American Rescue Plan. New Bedford’s grant award was $391,822,” the City said in a release.

Where Are the Air Quality Monitors in New Bedford?

There are five locations across the city where the sensors have been installed already: Pier 3, Fort Taber, East Rodney French Boulevard near Brittany Global Technologies, on Griffin Court and on Pearl Street.

Fifteen more locations are planned to go online later this spring, including near St. Luke’s Hospital, Buttonwood Park, New Bedford High School, Brook Street, Coffin Avenue, Pine Hill Park and others.

“Locations will be adjusted based on data recording and community input,” the City said.

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How Do The Air Quality Monitors Work?

“Data will be collected on air quality levels across the City to guide policy decisions and drive
climate action to bring cleaner air to New Bedford,” the City said. “Data will be collected with solar-powered, IoT-enabled QuantAQ sensors, and will be made available to the public in real time.”

What Will They Do With Data Gathered From Air Quality Monitors?

Basically, these monitors will let officials know just how clean the air is around the city, in order to best figure out how to make improvements to air quality, if necessary. The key part here is that the public will be able to access that data, through a user-friendly dashboard the City is developing along with Groundwork Southcoast.

They are also engaging those who live in the areas around these monitors to solicit feedback on air quality, and plan to use the data collected over the first few months of the monitoring to hold a public meeting seeking additional feedback and suggestions later this year.

What They’re Saying About the Air Quality Monitors

“New Bedford is committed to improving the quality of life for its residents, starting with the very air they breathe,” Mayor Jon Mitchell said. “The information generated by these sensors will illuminate the steps we need to take.”

“Taking advantage of this emerging initiative will provide the baseline data we’ll use to measure progress as we transition to cleaner energy and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Michele Paul, the City’s Director of Resilience and Environmental Stewardship.

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