Smart City Initiative installs air quality sensors throughout Orem

OREM, Utah -- The city of Orem is working on a way to potentially change air quality in its neighborhoods.

The "Smart City Initiative" is a result of Orem City, Brigham Young University students, UTOPIA Fiber, and Draper-based company Purple Air all working together to install sensors around the city.

The sensors look like the end cap of a PVC pipe, but they are packed with technology that allows them to capture air quality data in real-time.

"We used to have to deal with very expensive, large industrial air quality sensors," said UTOPIA Fiber Executive Director Roger Timmerman.

Now the technology is about the size of a hand, and sensors are placed strategically along the fiber network in Orem.

“Rather than look at it, just here’s one sample for the entire valley, we now have such detailed information we can start diagnosing what the sources are from different polluters," Timmerman said.

By running on UTOPIA's Fiber network, the cost stays low for the city project. Individuals can purchase the technology for their homes, with prices ranging from about $170 to $260 depending on the model.

Timmerman said this allows for a detailed look at your own neighborhood. Instead of seeing yellow air quality in Salt Lake City and assuming that applies to your neighborhood, you can see right outside your front door the air quality may be green and safe for those with asthma to venture outside.

The sensors also record data to be tracked an analyzed over time. Already, Timmerman said they see trends along major corridors and points of interest, like Utah Valley University.

“This really helps us make good decisions about air quality and what we can do, which is a hot topic in politics these days," Timmerman said. "So we think this is going to be a real enabler for people to make good decisions even in their own lives."

To see air quality data in real-time, click here.