“This project puts the internet-of-things in the hands of the people who need it the most, underserved children who are literally, struggling for breath. It will help their communities advocate for a healthier environment with a powerful new dataset."
Peter Long, Ph.D. 
President and CEO
Blue Shield of California Foundation
SmartAirLA advances health and environmental equity for underserved communities in Los Angeles County through technology. We empower asthmatic children and their communities to take control of the conditions that cause asthma - lack of medication adherence and exposure to air pollution. Our efforts:
  • Reduce asthma-related hospitalizations.
  • Decrease asthma-related student absenteeism, with fewer parents missing workdays to care for their afflicted children.
  • Lessen exposure to pollution that can lead to asthma.
With the support of the Blue Shield California Foundation, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, and the Asthma Coalition of Los Angeles County, we equip underserved asthmatic children with "smart" inhalers – Bluetooth sensor-equipped devices that attach to asthma medication to track the time and location of its usage. 
  • Patients via their smart inhalers and smartphones are reminded to take their medication and avoid polluted areas.
  • Doctors use smart inhalers to customize treatments and prescribe preventive measures. ​
  • Government agencies and community organizations target asthmatic hotspots pinpointed for pollution mitigation.
Clinical studies report that asthmatic children who used smart inhalers:
  • Reduced hospital admissions by 81%[1]
  • Improved medication adherence by 180%[2]​​

Systematic deployment of smart inhalers to over 1,100 asthmatic patients produced the following health outcomes:
  • Average of 82% reduction in asthma rescue inhaler use
  • Doubled their symptom-free days
  • Better sleep, with an average of 19% increase in symptom-free nights
  • 29% of uncontrolled participants gained control of their asthma[3]​​
Childhood Asthma in Los Angeles County


  • 59,000 high-risk underserved asthmatic children in Los Angeles County

  • About 1 in 11 children (9%) have asthma compared to about 1 in 14 adults (6%)

  • African American children have the highest rates of asthma (25%) compared to Latino children (8%), non-Latino White children (7%), and Asian/Pacific Islander children (4%)

  • Children living in poverty (<100% federal poverty level) have the highest rates of asthma (10.3%)[4]



  • In 2014, Los Angeles County had 50,937 asthma ER visits, of which 20,767 (40.8 %) were from children under 17

  • Over one-third (34.9%) of asthmatic children went to the ER or urgent care within one-year – highest rate is among children living in poverty (46.4%)

  • 52% of children with asthma missed at least one day of school due to asthma within the past year – highest rate is among African American children (65.4%), followed by Latino children (53.1%), Asian/Pacific Islanders (50.3%) and Whites (30.3%)[5]


  • Charge per asthma hospitalization for children was $23,254 and adults were $42,843 

  • Medicare (28.78%) and Medi-Cal (48.28%) together account for 77% for the payment source of asthma ER visits​ ​[6]

[1] Morton et al, (2016) - STAAR: a randomized control trial of electronic adherence monitoring with reminder alarms and feedback to improve clinical outcomes for children with asthma

[2] Chan et al, (2015) - The effect of electronic monitoring device with audiovisual reminder function on adherence to inhaled corticosteroids and school attendance in children with asthma: a randomized controlled trial

[3] Program results of Air Louisville (see https://www.airlouisville.com)

[4] Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

[5] Ibid

[6] California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development

© 2018 SmartAirLA is sponsored by Community Partners