On the “Silicon Slopes,” Orem, Utah partners college students with the local technology community to find creative solutions to the region’s biggest environmental challenge.

45 miles south of Salt Lake City sits Orem, Utah. As the 5th largest city in the state, Orem has been rated one of the best places to raise a family and welcomes students from across the country to Utah Valley University. It’s also joined in on the project involving Utah Ignite and the State to find innovative solutions to combat air pollution.

Just this year Orem City, along with Brigham Young University students, UTOPIA Fiber, and Purple Air, installed sensors around the city to monitor the amount of pollution in the air.

While the sensors look like the end cap of a PVC pipe and are about the size of a human hand, they’re packed with technology that allows them to capture air quality data in real-time. Sensors have been placed strategically along the fiber network in Orem City to keep the overall cost of the project low.

And this project isn’t just for city officials and local public interest groups, it can directly help residents, too. Sensors can be bought for individual homes so residents can be prepared for the type of air quality outside their home and in the surrounding area. This type of specific geographic information could help someone with asthma determine whether it’s safe to venture outside.

Long term, the data collected by the sensors can be used to identify trends over time and analyze them for solutions.

Without the city’s fiber optic network, this type of project couldn’t be conducted. And in Orem City, this is just the first of many smart city projects. From automated water meters to Wi-Fi in the parks, the fiber infrastructure running throughout Orem City improves the quality of life for all citizens. That’s what we call smart city living.

Ground Level Impact: Utah Air Pollution Real-Time Mobile Monitoring

The work on the UTOPIA-deployed sensors has spread to the entire set of communities along the Wasatch Front including Salt Lake City, Ogden, Sandy, and Provo. The University of Utah’s Kerry Kelly, Associate Director of the University’s Air Quality, Health and Society Program and also the Chair of the State Air Quality Board, is leading the U. of Utah student-driven development and deployment of next-generation low-cost but high-quality air monitoring devices.  US Ignite is proud that Utah Ignite’s Reverse Pitch efforts have united several teams working on air quality along the Wasatch front to develop a common set of solutions. UTOPIA’s gigabit network continues to be a major backbone for collecting the data from hundreds of sensors.