Louisville’s head of economic development will be in charge of a new local non-profit, in addition to some modified Metro duties. In changes announced Wednesday, Ted Smith will remain Louisville’s chief of civic innovation. He’ll will also serve as the first executive director for the Institute for Healthy Air, Water and Soil.
The institute was founded in April with funding from Louisville philanthropist Christy Brown. Its goals include helping citizens connect with and preserve Louisville’s air, water and soil.
Smith says those objectives should complement his Metro duties.
“In civic innovation there are projects that I think we’d like to do as a community that are sort of really on the bleeding edge of R&D, experimental, citizen science kind of work,” says Smith, whose title with the city was formerly head of economic growth and innovation. “And that’s really where this role with the institute comes in.”
One of the institute’s first projects is mapping air quality around Louisville with the help of low-cost sensors.
Smith says the cheap sensors shouldn’t be confused with the equipment the Air Pollution Control District uses at monitoring sites around Louisville.
“I mean, they’re definitely not the same thing,” he said. “But we are one of the few communities in the United States that are actually trying to understand where these low-cost sensors can add value, where they can supplement our understanding of what’s going on.”
Real-time air quality data from the institute’s sensors is available online, and users can also download historical data at louisvilleairmap.com.