By Frances Wang

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami has been chosen as the first major U.S. location for a new air quality monitoring network called PlanetWatch.

The announcement made by Mayor Francis Suarez on Monday is part of the “Miami Forever Climate Ready” Initiative. It’s a measurement system that locals can contribute data and be rewarded for.

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The goal is for every day residents to contribute to better environments, starting with air quality.

“Air quality is a big societal, public health issue,” said CEO Claudio Parrinello, who pointed out that the issue was highlighted during the pandemic.

Also an issue pointed out Parrinello is the way air quality is currently measured. For example, he said in middle-sized cities, there are only about three to four air quality measuring devices.

“But to do the job properly to understand what’s going on, we need 100,” said Parrinello.

The former research physicist explained that government measurement tools are expensive and scarce. His solution would be more cost-effective sensors as part of a network built upon blockchain technology.

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“Is it better to have three very sharp eyes looking around in a city or 1,000 eyes, which are not perfect, but they can see behind every corner,” said Parrinello, adding his network is to complement the government network.”

Parrinello gave a simple, but easy to understand example of what this data would do.

“Pollution hot spots occurring here every Wednesday 5pm, you can correlate with bus routes, which are polluting the environment. So putting data together, you can get a better understanding the pattern of pollutions,” said Parrinello. “And then you can deliver actionable recommendations.”

It’s a concept scientists like Parrinello call “citizen science,” where anyone can be part of scientific projects, research and experiments.

Parrinello’s long-term goal is to become a world reference in environmental monitoring, starting with air quality but expanding to other measurements, like water quality.

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There are already more than 21,000 monitors being used in this network. Parrinello said they will be available to Miami residents in 2022.