Social marketing related to air quality and health has exploded – and the potential up-sides are exciting.
Increased internet access, use of social media and networking platforms, an explosion of mobile device use and the ‘personalization’ of information is already influencing how we reach out to people about air and its effects on health. It’s part of a new public health communication reality that makes specific health information accessible to those who need it most.
Almost two years ago now, I spoke at a US Environmental Protection Agency conference on Air Quality to an audience of scientists, policy makers and communication professionals. I asked them to imagine a time when;
• Everyone understands how air pollution affects both their short and long term health based on personal risk factors
• People’s mobile devices are equipped with air quality monitors
• Air quality data is cross referenced to cloud-hosted personal electronic health records
• Health management advice, based on their personal risk levels from air pollution, is instantly pushed to their mobile device
• Increased understanding of the state of the air motivates the masses to better care for the environment.
Since that presentation, this future gazing is quickly becoming reality.
For example, smart phone air quality monitors are already in development. At the University of California San Diego a prototype  is being field tested. It combines artificial intelligence and sensor technology within cell phones, to achieve hyper-local, almost personalized, air quality monitoring. When all this data is uploaded, aggregated and shared, it could create a crowd-sourced solution to improved air quality monitoring.
Cloud-hosted electronic health records are also quickly becoming a reality. In Canada, and in many other countries, there is continuous progress toward a complete health system transfer to Electronic Medical Records (EMR). Patients are already reporting rapid e-access to diagnostic test results through e-health and telehealth programs in Canada. It’s only a matter of time before personal health data intersects with air pollution data to give people personalized advice on air quality and their health.
And, there is already a multitude of examples of clever, creative and collaborative efforts to advance awareness of air quality. Over the next two weeks we will provide a few of these examples offering a glimpse into the future of air quality outreach and communication including:
• Flash Mobs, Die In’s and School Strikes
• Maximizing Mobile to Promote Air Quality
• Learning by Doing
• New Sectors Playing in the Air Quality Sandbox
In the meantime, if you’ve been part of a team that’s developed a clever and creative way to increase people’s understanding of air quality and its effects on health, or you have seen one you like, post it here.