Winds for a Healthy Change – Blowing out with a bang

Winds for a Healthy Change (Beta)


I. Project

A. Introduction

Air quality is a national problem. States with some of the largest populations, such as New York, California, and Texas, fail to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Chronic exposure to high particulate matter (PM), ozone, or smog contributes to upper and lower respiratory problems, asthma, decreased lung capacity, or worse. The health effects of poor air quality result from a number of factors including transportation to and from school, outdoor physical activity, and lack of knowledge of poor air quality days, or “Action Days.”

The problem is especially acute in Los Angeles. According to the American Lung Association’s State of the Air Report 2012, Los Angeles County ranks among the top five dirtiest cities in terms of air pollution.  Many of these airborne pollutants, such as ozone and particulate matter, have been found to significantly decrease lung function and capacity, with low-income communities most adversely affected.

Our website explores the factors—both direct and indirect—that have the greatest effect on air quality, specifically the concentration of particulate matter in the air and factors like wind and weather. With a real-time map showing air quality combined with up-to-the-minute weather conditions, our website offers what has the potential to become an indispensable tool for those most concerned with the effects of poor air like parents, health professionals, and educators.

B. Description

Up until now, maybe the most common place to get an update on current air quality conditions has been through an occasional warning from local radio stations when the air quality is especially poor. These announcements lack regularity and are subject to the daily news cycle. Even if air quality is bad, the warning may be withheld due to broadcasting time restraints.

In order to address gaps in knowledge about air quality Winds for a Healthy Change proudly presents a website to help the U.S. public, with an emphasis on Los Angeles, mitigate the threats of poor air quality.

The central feature of our website is real-time data that comes from the AirNow website. AirNow is a product of a combined effort between the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Park Service. The AirNow website generates and displays the information we use, but restricts the user to a larger region, such as the general southwest, and does not combine the information with additional factors like weather. Their website also does not incorporate the useful Google interface.

Our website gives users a way to check air quality conditions before they make decisions like when to go outside. The relevancy to fields related to planning is clear. While it is designed with the general public in mind, we believe it will be especially useful specific user groups, especially those who spend a lot of time outdoors—like children—and those who are susceptible to respiratory ailments, like the elderly and infirm. The implications for issues concerning environmental are considerable, as users can see in real-time how poor air quality might be disproportionately affecting regions that have less access to medical resources are more susceptible to disease.

C. Functionality

The website welcomes the user by requesting a piece of information that is among one of the first things a child learns about where they live: their zipcode. From there, the website takes the user to the entered zipcode and presents them a collection of easy to read data.

The first is an outline of the zipcode the user enters. The second is a box appears showing three pieces of information. This includes the zip code, basic demographic information like population and density, and three indications air quality: the air quality index for today, and the air quality index for the prior two days.

An additional piece of data relates to another important factor influencing air quality: wind direction. Surrounding the chosen zip code is a grid of 30 arrows that give information about current wind conditions. The direction of the arrows indicates where the wind is blowing, and their thickness indicates how strongly. Wind direction is an important factor to consider because often air quality is affected not only by the reading in the selected zip code, but also the readings in nearby zip codes, from which polluted air can be blown in.

A secondary feature is to display cloud cover and weather, each of which have impacts on air quality, but because their impacts are less significant, are relegated to optional toggleable layers at the top of the screen. Additional toggleable layers reflect how environmental justice factor in to air quality, by graphically reflecting a vulnerability index.

Once the user has become acquainted with information offered by Winds for Healthy Change, they have the option to do a new search and explore a second feature of our website: historical data. In this option, the user can access air quality data from the past to understand how today’s data stacks up against the past, going back to August 2009

Features at the edges of the screen offer help to the user if there is any confusion about the what the information on the site. A legend in the bottom right corner of the screen informs the user of how to interpret the data, explaining wind speed and air quality indicators. A Guide Me tab at the top offers tips about how to navigate the site. An About section gives a summary of the project and information about the developers.

II. Diagram


III. Team


The Winds team is comprised of four members. Sharon Liu is a graduate student in the UCLA Department of Civil Engineering. Bryan Moy is a 1st year Ph.D student in the School of Public Health. Julia Lembrikova is a graduate student in both the School of Public Health and Urban Planning. Steven Guerry is soon to be unemployed.

Sharon was responsible for the heavy coding lifting with significant support from Bryan, who also provided extensive design feedback and guidance. Steven and Julia offered strategy, input and feedback on specific features that were eventually incorporated into the site. They also handled many of the blog posts, wire diagrams, and narrative for the site.

Bryan

  • brainstorming (and dreaming) potential designs :)
  • maintaining a wishlist for Sharon
  • writing/editing blog entries (especially post-midterm)
  • extensive guidance/UI experience
  • making the final presentation on Prezi

Sharon

  • coding, debugging, troubleshooting
  • saying yea or nay to what is or isn’t possible (within our coding capabilities)
  • trying to fulfill Bryan’s wishlist (which she did!)
  • minimal contribution to blogs

Steven

  • writing blog entries
  • making wire frame diagrams for blog
  • suggestions/comments

Julia

  • Bringing high-fiber snacks :)
  • Attempting minimal tasks as needed
  • suggestions/comments

IV. Evaluation

For the most part, our website was able to quickly display three layers real-time (wind arrows, weather, and clouds) and the most recent air quality data; this typically meant the most recent 10am or 12pm reading.  Aside from the lack of real-time AirNow data from the API, calls to the API were relatively slow; therefore, the total number of calls had to be limited.  This meant that we would not be able to easily calculate long-term averages such as the historical Monday average or plot a time-series of data for that specific location.   As a result, we limited our queries to just three days–the user specified day and the two days prior.  In order to be able to utilize long-term average hourly data, we would have had to deal with data off of AirNow’s ftp server.  In that case, we realized there were 12,000+ files of hourly data– one file for each hour of the day starting from 8/1/09 to present.  Each file contained data for the entire country.  If we had more time, we would like to be able to build something similar to the Google Traffic bar which can display long-term hourly trends sorted by day of week.  We feel that this is a critical piece of information that users would need in order to make a decision on whether or not to engage in an extended amount of outdoor activity.

Another major issue was calling the wind arrows and having the wind arrows display at the correct locations.   We wanted to match traditional vector maps by showing a dense grid of arrow on a map to demonstrate actual trends; however, again, the speed at which data was received from the World Weather Online API limited this from being possible.  In addition to the number of arrows, we were also faced with the challenge of distinguishing the wind magnitude from one location to another.  Since we were not satisfied with just changing the size of one set of wind direction icons because the thickness of the arrows would change, we wanted to have the length of the arrow change.  By making this decision, we needed to create numerous sets of 8 arrows for each level of wind speed.  Initially, we used 7 sets of arrows based on the Beaufort scale, but then we realized that the arrow lengths could not be easily distinguished, so we downsized to 3 levels.

Our last major challenge was working with ArcServer.  Given the wide range of data sources/stylesheets that we were using, there were often mysterious conflicts that really hindered our use of ArcServer layers.  The problem wasn’t resolved until it was a bit too late to explore ways to add new data to the website.  We figured it out late Tuesday night and successfully called the data, but had issues displaying the data in a consistent manner.  Queries were successful, but since the queries were all nested within a getJSON call, the data often did not come in an orderly manner leading to strange display problems.  (Please uncomment the commented out section in winds.getAGSdata() to see what we mean.)  We decided to remove it altogether.

Although the website showed very useful information, the spatial relevance of the AQI was still a major issue left unresolved due to the format of AirNow API calls.  Since air quality data is measured at monitoring stations, data for a specific lat/lon cannot be obtained unless there is some sort of interpolation scheme calculating the true value based on the surrounding monitoring station values.  This would require interpolation schemes commonly used in hydrology to fill missing precipitation data such as Inverse Distance Weighting, Station Average Method, Linear Average, etc.  Even then, these interpolation schemes assume that air quality can be linearly interpolated which also a faulty assumption because dispersion is dependent on the weather conditions (including wind speed and direction as well as humidity) .  If we were interpolate, how then would we query? by the nearest X stations? within X radius?  This would unravel a whole different challenge.  Perhaps we can tackle this problem in the future using some mathematical calculation OR we could avoid calculations and just solve the problem with display  improvements (e.g. onclick display all stations within some radius and plot their respective AQI values).

Some animation throughout the website would help to streamline transitions.  Although it’s not absolutely necessary, but it would make the website more aesthetically pleasing.   We could see this as being particularly nice when toggling panels on and off and having them fly on-screen, for example.

As for the future of Winds for a Healthy Change, Bryan and Sharon would like to eventually take the website public after another couple rounds of major UI improvements which could involve working with our data providers to generate more user-friendly data.

Presentation Comments from Audience

  • “Can you add allergen data, such as pollen, tree, etc?”
    • Weather.com has the data and if a user would want to access that data, they click the icon on the map and access the data by linking to weather.com’s website and clicking on the “Pollen” tab.
  • “Can you show a longer time-series of data or show trends?”
    • Yes, we will explore that option (hopefully soon).
  • “I thought the Help! button was for us to seek help based on the (bad) data I saw.  What can I do if there air quality is bad near me?  Maybe you can add a way for users to express their concern to local policymakers?”
    • Yes, unfortunately, the Help! button ended up being confusing.  We should have left it as “User Guide” or something with a more direct meaning.  If possible, we should have a query where you can get emails of local policy makers.  Also, there could be pre-filled (yet customizable) text form for users to email from our website.  (I think that would be a separate challenge in itself.)


V. Documentation

A. User Interactions

  • Entering zipcode- Users can enter a zipcode to see real-time  AQI  data for the selected zipcode.
  • Searching historical data- By clicking on the magnifying glass on the initial screen or in the search tab, users can pick a date from August 2009 through now and view AQI data for the selected day.
  • Clicking on weather icons display forecasted weather for the user.
  • Clicking on Help! allows the user to view different functionalities of the site and helps them navigate .
  • If no zipcode is chosen, the default goes to today’s date, as well as the map of the U.S. where the user is then able to click anywhere they like.
  • Clicking on the Layers tab will allow users to add or remove features such as demographics, clouds, temperature, and wind arrow layers.
  • Users can click on the About section which provides them with information about the website and its designers.
  • A clickable legend is provided in the bottom right corner, indicating the color code for the AQI and explains the wind arrows on the map.
  • Lastly, the user can click on Sources to see where we got the information, codes, and API’s to put this map together.

B. Custom Functions

Some of the custom functions of the Winds for Healthy Change website are the ability to call real-time wind data, weather data, cloud data and most importantly real-time air quality data.  Although real-time air quality data isn’t available in every location imaginable, we were able to call any data AirNow has available.  We also have historical air quality data available for users on our site.

C. Custom Layers

Temperature data – users have the ability to view the temperature and the weather description.

Wind data – users are able to see how strong the wind is as well as the wind direction.  There are three different wind strengths represented by different colored arrows and eight different arrows in which we classify wind direction.

Air quality data – users are able to see the concentration of particulate matter from a number of monitoring sources provided by the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Demographic Layers – Allows users the ability to see a variety of demographic information that may be useful to illustrate environmental justice issues.

We also have a layer for US states, although this layer is on by default and is not available for the user to toggle.

Update on the Final Project

Link to working website.

In the final project for Winds of Healthy Change we would like our users to be able to enter a zipcode of interest, which would zoom the map to that particular area and pull up proper AQI data.The AQI data would include available information on a variety of pollutants (TBD).  The user would be able to see the number from the AQI index as well as the color pertinent to that particular zipcode and refer to the legend to determine if it is safe or not to be outside and at what danger level the air is.  The  wind arrows will show on default and the size of the arrow will correspond to the wind strength.  The user can use the legend to get more information about the arrows.  The user has the ability to click anywhere on the map and a polygon for the clicked zipcode appears as well as any information available about the AQI.  Both the air quality, wind speed and direction data is in real-time which would allow the user to get more accurate information than otherwise available.  There will be a few toggleable layers, weather being one of them, and some that still need to be determined.  We have broadened our user base and now have information for users nationwide, although we anticipate our website will be more relevant to people who care about outdoor air quality such as parents, and to people who are more vulnerable to poor air quality..

Historical air quality data will also be available for the user to access, although that data availability only dates back to August 1st, 2009.This will be important if users wanted to look at patterns in air quality throughout certain years, season, or time periods.

Although we have had some progress in the development of our website the following things are still in progress:

  • Calling air quality parameters of choice both historical/real-time
  • Sizing buttons dynamically
  • Thinner wind direction icon(s)
  • Entering a custom zip code rather than clicking on the map

As our project is evolving with have encountered some new challenges but are still facing some old user interface annoyances.

  • User interface issues
    • Our team has come up with a variety of different ways to present the data (some involving a Navbar, some involving having different parts of the screen greyed out).  We’ve got the Navbar to work SOMEWHAT efficiently, but there’s still some problems with alignment and working with the container.  Another problem is that we’re unable to appropriately make the calls to grey out specific areas or provide pop-up boxes (as Yoh had proposed).  We’re working on this problem diligently.
  • Integrating Bootstrap seamlessly into our webpage
    • As I mentioned earlier, we’re trying to incorporate Bootstrap CSS into our webpage, because we enjoy the ease of design.  However, we’re finding it difficult to adjust some of the parameters according to what we’re looking for, however, we need to explore the “Customize” section in further detail.  If that doesn’t work, we will probably explore other CSS options.
  • Historical data – what metrics to choose from?
    • Another thing we’re trying to adjust is how to present the data (bar graphs) using Bootstrap on the page.  We still haven’t figured out how to make the specific call, and also, we haven’t identified which pollutants we’re going to be focusing on.  We’ll need to decide this soon before we move on.
  • Highlighting polygon with AQI color – call currently inefficient
    • The call to highlight the polygon with the AQI color is currently inefficient and redundant.  We need to think about another way to make the call, or we won’t incorporate this aspect.
  • Do not know how to call for pollutant of interest
    • We’re not sure how to make the call to get the same pollutant of interest, versus randomly getting different calls for each pollutant.  We’ll need to standardized this before proceeding.

Winds for a Healthy Change Update!

Winds Working Beta

After receiving comments back about our midterm Beta version of our website, we needed to focus the functionality of our website.  In going with the theme of a real-time map, we decided to focus on the AirNow Air Quality Index (AQI) data and present it in a useful manner since calling/organizing a data would be a challenge in itself.  Originally, we found that hourly observations go back to around July 2009, but this meant that there were ~20,000 individual data files.  To process such a large amount of data would be very difficult.  In addition, each file did not have a consistent set of data from each monitoring station; therefore making data organization even more of a challenge.

As of late last week, Yoh helped us discover that we could make calls to historical data.  With this knowledge, we won’t have to worry as much about data organization.  The goal with obtaining all of this data would be to build something similar to what Google Maps has for hourly traffic patterns.  but before getting to that, we would like to first backtrack and decide which variables to display.  AQI is calculated differently for each of five parameters– Ozone, CO, NO2, PM 2.5, and PM 10, so now we need to decide which parameter(s) to focus our efforts or whether we should allow the user to access them all.  Currently, we are doing some literature review and consulting air quality experts on campus to see if there is a justified way of aggregating the data to a single AQI number.

Further updates include:

  • Updating the “About Us” page, which we feel needs significant improvement in conjunction with our overall project, not only in design, but also layout.
  • Working on incorporating an accordion panel instead of our current tabs.  We are looking into this feature in order to provide a better user interface, but we are also exploring other options provided by Bootstrap.  They have some really pretty groovy layouts.
  • How to present our title.  We really enjoyed TESLA’s rotating gallery, and we’re thinking about incorporating something similar to that, or something more minimalistic.  This is more of an afterthought at this point, as we want to ensure that the majority of our functions are working and are appropriate to our overall goals.
  • Trying to create and incorporate a wind vector matrix.  This was a suggestion presented to us during the midterm, so we wanted to make sure we address it.  Instead of having one single arrow associated with the temperature sensor, we wanted to create a matrix of wind arrows that covers the entire area.  We believe this would provide more comprehensive wind information compared to the single arrow.  We currently have some issues displaying the icons.
  • Obtain real-time data from the AirNow API.  This was one of the largest drawbacks to our midterm, and thanks to Yoh, we were able to get it to work.  We have integrate that into our existing project, but we need to make additional tweaks where necessary.
  • Our user interface is one of the largest challenges we are facing.  As our site provides a wide variety of data, trying to keep the site easy and simple for users to peruse is proving difficult.  Our next steps are to look at various other sites to gain inspiration from their existing layouts, and then try to mimic and adapt our site accordingly.

Recent accomplishments:

  • Recently we were able to incorporate Yoh’s code into our existing prototype.  We are excited at having real-time data now, and we need to come up with a way to easily display the information for the user.  Some idea’s we’re having involve:
    • Search bar
    • Predefined areas (limits users’ ability to search)
  • We were able to code for the wind vector, but at this point, it does not seem to be working on our site.  We may need additional help on this.

Winds for a Healthy Change Midterm

Introduction:

Our website.

Los Angeles County is known for its rich culture, diverse landscape, and most importantly, its beautiful weather.  Unfortunately, also well known to most Los Angelinos is the horribly pervasive air pollution, which adversely affects many children throughout the County.  Exposure to such horrible air is attributed through a confluence of factors, such as transportation to and from schools, outdoor physical activity, and a lack of knowledge regarding poor air quality days.  Chronic exposure to high particulate matter (PM), ozone, or smog can contribute to upper and lower respiratory problems, asthma, or worse, decreased lung capacity.

In order to address such gaps, it is with great pleasure that the WINDS FOR A HEALTHY CHANGE Inc. would like to unveil its new interactive mapping tool that aims to informs students, parents, and educators about current unhealthy air quality, in order to make better-informed decisions regarding their outdoor activities.  Our tool, currently in its beta phase, provides real-time information on a number of factors related to air quality such as: temperature, wind direction, wind speed and air quality indexes.  Each of these variables will be presented in an easily understandable format that empowers, educates, and informs our target groups.


Who We Aim to Please:

  • Students – Will be able to learn about alternative modes of transportation, such as bus routes, train lines, and subway stations using the Metro information incorporated into our map.  We believe having these features will encourage students to be more sustainable, and participate in reducing automobile emission exposure by riding public transportation.  Additionally, our interactive map provides information on a number of useful locations catering to students, such as libraries, parks, zoos, schools and bookstores.
  • Parents – Will also be provided with similar amenities as students, with the additional benefits of locations pertinent to the working parent, such as hospitals, universities, and taxi stands.  We hope that parents can use this tool to determine when it is safe for their children to play outside when they are not in school.
  • Educators – Educators are our main priority with regard to our working prototype, as children spend most of the high pollutant periods within schools.  Our hope is that educators can use our website to identify periods of poor air quality in order to adjust the students’ schedules to include outdoor physical activity when PM is lowest.


Through such informed decisions, we hope to aid in reducing the overall incidence and prevalence of respiratory issues among children within Los Angeles County.

Implementation:
The Winds for a Healthy Change Inc. will promote our website as a multi-faceted tool to schools within Los Angeles County.  Teachers will be able to use our website in order to make informed decisions about poor air quality days and whether to allow children to play in such conditions.  Teachers will also be able to use the website as an educational resource to teach students about issues of sustainability, environmental justice, and air pollution.  We hope students can bring this information home to their parents or guardians, and that they will refer to our website daily, when making informed decisions.

Your Website Can Do What?!
Winds for a Healthy Change Inc. has scoured the internet in order to provide the user the most up-to-date information and technology regarding air pollution and public health.  Whereas a multitude of websites have sporadic information on  a variety of weather and air quality tools, our website combines these features together in a map that is both user friendly and easy to understand.  A few of the features we’ve gathered are:

  • Temperature data – users have the ability to view the temperature and the weather description.
  • Wind data – users are able to see how strong the wind is as well as the wind direction.  There are three different wind strengths represented by different colored arrows and eight different arrows in which we classify wind direction.
  • Air quality data – users are able to see the concentration of particulate matter from a number of monitoring sources provided by the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
    • Buffers – Indicate the extent and deposition of affected areas.
  • Places – Generates specific points of interest or things we felt the users would benefit from knowing.  These icons typically identify points of interest or outdoor activity centers.
  • Real-time bus location data- users are able to see all the LA Metro Rapid bus lines and where they are in real time as well as their direction.  We felt this would be an excellent resource for users who want to partake in reducing overall air pollution by riding public transportation.
  • Demographic Data – Allows users the ability to see a variety of demographic information that may be useful to illustrate  environmental justice issues.

Who’s who?

  • Bryan –
    • Gathered background information for project/project vision
    • Function quality control/Troubleshooting
    • Layout vision/ User appeal
    • Requisition of data
  • Julia
    • Some CSS design work
    • Developer page
    • Some data requisition
  • Sharon
    • Coding map controls and features
    • Explored Google layers and experimental functions
  • Steven
    • Requisition and parsing of data, including original data from AirNow
    • CSS style coding for site layout
    • Google Fusion Tables


“Yeah, That’s Not Going to Work” Moments:

Real-time Air Quality Data – The main concern was obtaining access to real-time air quality data for Los Angeles County, particularly since air quality data is generally presented at a much larger scale.  After finding an appropriate API, it was also difficult to incorporate it into our existing map, even after following the directions, links, and appropriate coding for the code to work – it appeared as though the JSON code provided by the website was wrong.  In order to remediate this problem for the midterm, we obtained static data from a number of sources, incorporated them into fusion tables, visualized the data and applied buffers in order to show the extent.

User interface – Being able to come up with a layout that could easily apply to all three of our target groups was challenging.  Since we want to display a variety of specifically chosen variables for each user, we wanted to think of a way that we could easily provide a variety of variables, but still provide the users with multiple options. We decided to use a mix of tabular and drop-down options, where users could view their specifically designated map, but also have the ability to add additional features if necessary.

Little obtained data  –  Most of the features, functionalities, and data provided on our map were obtained from existing websites, sources, and data found online.  Whereas other groups may have obtained data sources, working with existing APIs that typically are not incorporated with one another proved challenging.

Combining APIs – A lot of the APIs and features we wanted to add were problematic in that they did not work well with the one another or inhibited specific functions.  Acknowledging, working, and understanding their properties in order to have them functional was difficult.

Styling/colors – We approached styling through a number of variations, such as with Bootstrap, styling sheets, and typical CSS.  In some cases, our styling sheet conflicted with our Bootstrap coding making it difficult to alter colors or variations.


Onward and Upwards!

  • Forecasted weather projections
  • Real-time air quality data
  • Different checkboxes for each user (student, parent, educator)
  • More sophisticated layout
  • Better UI
  • Search Bar
  • Zoom in and out function
  • Expanding to all of California

Wireframe:

Week 4 Group Assignment

General Updates

Weather Data

  • Airnowgateway.org does not consider weather conditions—even temperature— so the Google weather layer is an ideal compliment to our new air quality data.
  • Aim to incorporate wind data vectors

Particulate matter data

  • Airnowgateway.org provides real-time or historical air quality data at the zip code level for a five parameters: PM 2.5, CO2, CO, N20.
  • Still trying to work on how to incorporate this into the map, and how to combine with the weather/wind data.

These are some of the primary variables we’re trying to consider on the map:

  • Wind – should this be multiple arrows, or a single arrow for each designated area?
  • Temperature – at what level does this cover?
  • AQI – how would we display this in a clear and concise way that people can understand.  Should we incorporate a legend/key?

ARC GIS Layers/Shapefiles we’re considering adding to the map:

  • Elementary/secondary schools
  • Parks/County Parks
  • Zip-codes for LA County

User-Interface

  • In the beginning, we opted to combine multiple layers on and off.  Now we’ve decided to have individual layers that can be clicked on and off (at least for the midterm).
  • Have pre-designated variables that are applicable to each user:
    • Teachers
    • Parents
    • Students
  • Still allow users to add additional layers where they see fit/necessary
    • Adaptable buffer – able to change the size of the buffer
      • Haven’t been able to figure out how this would correlate with the weather and particulate matter data (would making the buffers combine temperature/particulate matter values, etc.)

Specific Updates

  • Designating which features will be permanently displayed and which features can be altered by the users
  • Trying to assimilate at what spatial scale the weather and particulate matter data are presented at
  • Which layout would be the most efficient and straight-foward in terms of allowing the designated users to get the most out of the data
  • If and when we consider adding forecasts, how would we display this?

Updated wire frame diagram:

Week 3 Group Assignment: Midterm Proposal

A)

Background/Introduction:

Los Angeles is a car-centric city with an elaborate freeway system and many cars.  Studies have shown that emissions from cars as well as from diesel trucks are highly correlated with high asthma rates and respiratory problems in children. Diesel particulates, carbon monoxide, ultrafine particles, and other particulate matter (PM) are detrimental to the upper and lower respiratory system, particularly in young children.

The movement and distribution of airborne particulates is highly dependent on particles size, wind direction and prevailing weather patterns.  If parents are able to determine when particulates are lowest, they could take their children to parks during those times to minimize exposure to PM.  School officials could shift recesses and lunches to avoid high PM exposure.  Studies have been done on PM exposure and schools, in combination with weather patterns, and data has been presented to school officials, but we know of no map that allows citizens to interactively look at parks and school playgrounds to make informed decisions.

Proposal:

Our group has decided to create an interactive map of parks and schools located in Los Angeles County that utilizes current wind and weather data to actively provide particulate concentrations for a particular location (by clicking, or rolling a mouse over it) at different times during the day.  This main purpose of our project is focused on empowering our target audience – parents/guardians, school board officials, principals and school administrations – to make better informed decisions regarding when and where children should play for any given day, without the consequences of exposing them to high particulate concentrations.

With our website, users would be able to utilize a multitude of functions such as obtaining real-time weather data, viewing average particulate matter for their specific location, alternative transportation solutions, and various other components.  Through the variety of functions available, Winds for a Healthy Change focuses on the individual user, and hopes to cater to their specific need. For instance:

    • Parents can use the website in order to obtain information regarding weather and particulate matter for their specific area.
    • Educators can use the website to demonstrate environmental justice issues through the demographic layers and static average particulate matter data.
    • Students can learn be sustainable by viewing and taking local bus routes within their area, rather than driving cars.

B)  Functionalities of our Website

  • Accordion style menu to select/deselect layers and customize other features
  • Real time weather data – under the weather tab, the ability to turn on and off different variables such as temperature, humidity, precipitation, etc.
  • Static particulate matter data for LA County
  • Static demographic data (income, ethnicity, etc.) – ESRI
  • The ability for the user to see traffic data from Google in order to compare particulate matter in that area
  • Real-time LA Metro to provide alternative transportation options to reduce cars on the road

C)  Wire Frame

D) Sketches

Option 1:

Option 2:

E) Data Set List

  • EPA Data—mostly static sets exportable to Excel. We will either create a KML layer through Google Earth or create an ArcGIS layer.
  • Cal Atlas—may or may not include this because the geographic areas are limited to CARB districts.
  • AirNow.gov—largely static layer exportable for use as KML or ArcGIS.
  • L.A. County Schools—static dataset of schools.
  • Google Traffic—real time data to estimate impacts of air pollution in terms of concentration of cars.
  • Weather Data—World Weather Online API- Can access current and forecasted data for temperature, wind speed, wind direction, humidity, cloud cover, visibility, etc (key meteorological variables) [The alternate source would be Google Maps API’s built-in weather layer.  This layer would limit the website’s versatility.]

F) Milestones

Week 6 (Midterm)

  • 10-15 minute powerpoint presentation with screen shots of different aspects of our website.
  • Skeleton of our website with all functionalities working.
  • A few different clickable layers as well as two functioning API’s.
  • Have the frame of the layout in place, with minor details still to be worked out.
  • A description of our project and a beginning of a user friendly guide to our website

Week 10 (Final)

  • A thorough and easy to understand user guide for our website describing the different functions it will provide to the user and how to navigate it.
  • Features will all be functional with no bugs.
  • A final blog entry describing all the features of the site with flow charts, sketches, wire-frames, functional flow. It will also include our roles in the project
  • A project evaluation with the strengths and weaknesses of our website will also be included in the entry.
  • In addition, our website will have toggle functions, a few radio buttons, a sidebar with clickable checkboxes as well as a legend to any items placed in our map.

G) Concerns

  • Not enough real-time particulate matter data. Most data we have found is static
    • PM data is not current (from 2006-2008)
  • Struggled to get the actual API url, although we have lots of data, it’s not an API
  • Creating unique Arc GIS layers and overlaying them into Google Maps API
    • How the layers will look at various zoom layers and to what specificity/resolution they should be at
  • Layout design that is simplified/streamlined, but still presents all the material to various targeted users

Initial Work #1

Initial Work #2

Introduction to Winds of Healthy Change

Group Name: “Winds of Healthy Change”

Background/Introduction:

Los Angeles is a car-centric city with an elaborate freeway system and many cars. Studies have shown that emissions from cars as well as from diesel trucks are highly correlated with high asthma rates and respiratory problems in children. Diesel particulates, carbon monoxide, ultrafine particles, and other particulate matter (PM) are detrimental to the upper and lower respiratory system, particularly in young children.

The movement and distribution of airborne particulates is highly dependent on particles size, wind direction and prevailing weather patterns.  If parents are able to determine when particulates are lowest, they could take their children to parks during those times to minimize exposure to PM.  School officials could shift recesses and lunches to avoid high PM exposure.  Studies have been done on PM exposure and schools, in combination with weather patterns, and data has been presented to school officials, but we know of no map that allows citizens to interactively look at parks and school playgrounds to make informed decisions.

Proposal:

Our group has decided to create an interactive map of parks and schools located in Los Angeles County that utilizes current wind and weather data to actively provide particulate concentrations for a particular location (by clicking, or rolling a mouse over it) at different times during the day.  This main purpose of our project is focused on empowering our target audience – parents/guardians, school board officials, principals and school administrations – to make better informed decisions regarding when and where children should play for any given day, without the consequences of exposing them to high particulate concentrations.

MURP CivE Staff  

Julia- Stress-free Computer Interaction Coordinator

Julia was born in Russia, but has been in Santa Monica the last 21 years.  She is in the dual degree program for MPH/MURP with an emphasis in Environmental health Sciences. She loves animals and hopes to continue on to veterinary school and incorporate her current degrees in the study of zoonotic diseases and the human-animal interface to prevent things like Contagion from occurring. :)

Steven- Coding Cat

Steven is a second year student in UCLA’s masters program for Urban and Regional Planning. After working four and a half years in the independent film industry, Steven returned to school in order to work in the realm of environmental advocacy and policy and specifically their intersection with urban issues. Originally from northern California, Steven earned his undergraduate degree in Film Studies and Spanish from UC Santa Barbara.

Sharon- Dynamic Data Director

Sharon was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico but grew up in southern California.  Sharon holds both a B.S. and M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from UCLA. She is currently pursuing a PhD specializing in hydrology and water resources.  Her research focuses on the impact of development on the urban water balance.

Bryan – Wacky Web Designer

Hailing from Chicago, Illinois, Bryan is what you would consider a bicoastal-hopper.  As an undergraduate at UCLA, Bryan studied Environmental Science, with an emphasis in the Environmental Health Sciences.  Making his way over to the East Coast, he recently finished his MPH in Epidemiology, focusing on the intersection between the built environment and public health.  Returning back to the West Coast as a first year PhD student at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health, Bryan is definitely excited at applying his experiences together and tackling many of the challenges and opportunities that come his way.