Communities, Climate, Environment, and Health

Today, we are participating in the “Data and Innovation at the Climate-Health Nexus” panel hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. When we’ve spoken to people about this meeting the reaction we tend to receive is, “What does Quantified Self have to do with climate change?” It’s a valid question, and one we hope to answer during the panel. Today we wanted to take some time here to talk about why we’re a part of this important conversation.

It’s no surprise that data and data collection is becoming a part of the normal course of our everyday lives, from the data we choose to collect about our health and wellness to the so-called “data exhaust” we’re creating as we use different technological systems. The practice of self-tracking, collected data about yourself to answer interesting questions or help change behavior, has often been linked to narcissism or navel gazing. We know from our experience interacting with a worldwide community of self-trackers that this isn’t the case. Individuals who track, analyze, visualize, and learn from their own data also tend to do something else: share it. You just have to take a peek at our over 750 show&tell videos to see that sharing experiences, techniques, and outcomes is a core component of our work and our community. It’s the reason we hold conferences, support over 100 meetups around the world, and share on this website.

We also know that data is powerful. It can help us understand ourselves, but also the world around us. We’ve been watching closely as new citizen science, one-off projects, and commercial toolmakers have started to incorporate ways to sense and measure the personal and local environment. From air quality sensors integrated into in-home video monitors to crowdsourced DIY environmental sensing devices – we’re beginning to see the power of data for understanding the environment around us, and perhaps more importantly, how the environment plays a role in the health and wellness of our communities. A great example of this comes from our friends at Propeller Health. Recently they announced the launch of AIR Lousiville, a “first-of-its-kind data-driven collaboration among public, private and philanthropic organizations to use digital health technology to improve asthma.” By combining air quality data with geolocated asthma inhaler use data they hope to better understand and positively impact their local environment and reduce the burden of asthma in the Louisville community.

This is just one example of individuals coming together as a community to generate and contribute data about themselves, their environment, and their health to drive a much needed conversation. A conversation about the complex, and important, relationship between the environment and health. We’re hoping to see more and, to that extent, we’re excited to announce that starting at our 2015 Quantified Self Public Health Symposium we’ll be officially launching, in collaboration with with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Personal & Community Environmental Data Challenges, calling on researchers and companies making wearables, sensing, data-visualization, and digital health-tools to join a national conversation about the importance of gaining a more detailed view of environmental impacts on health. This challenge is just one in a great list of commitments from leading companies and institutions designed to advance the Obama Administration’s Climate Data Initiative.

We invite you to learn more about our challenge announcement and our participation in the symposium on Data and Innovation at the Climate-Health Nexus by reading our brief press release here.

You can also learn more about national initiatives, programs, and newly released climate data from the following Fact Sheet: Administration Announces Actions To Protect Communities From The Impacts Of Climate Change

Update: The video from the panel is up and can be found here. The panel actually starts an hour and 19 minutes in to the video.

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