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SmartAirLA and Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma Launch Data Partnership
with Blue Shield of California Foundation and Knight Foundation

June 19, 2020

SmartAirLA launches a community data partnership with the Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma (LBACA) and Advancement Project California (APCA)  to prevent asthma attacks and pollution exposure among underserved populations in the Long Beach-LA Harbor region.  The area is one of the country’s most polluted regions with the highest asthma rates.

With funding from the Blue Shield of California Foundation and Knight Foundation, SmartAirLA and LBACA will pilot an Asthma Heat Map and Alert as a wellness and advocacy tool for residents to improve their health and environment. SmartAirLA will develop data analytics to help LBACA provide real-time health education to pediatric asthma patients and their families to improve asthma self-management.  APCA will visualize the Heat Map to pinpoint asthmatic hotspots for air pollution mitigation. 


“This project puts data tools in the hands of pollution-burdened community members whose health and quality of life are at stake,” said Sylvia Betancourt, Program Manager for LBACA. “The real-time Alert with coordinated education equips community members to make informed decisions about their daily outdoor activities and improve asthma self-management to prevent asthma emergencies from pollution exposure.” 


The innovative community data partnership seeks to stop the devastation from asthma in the Long Beach-LA Harbor region, which the American Lung Association rates as one of the most polluted areas in the country.  The USC Children’s Health Study found that children breathing polluted air in communities, such as Long Beach, are five times as likely to have clinically low lung function than children who breathe clean air.    People of color are hardest hit. The Long Beach Community Health Assessment reports asthma hospitalization rates among African Americans are nearly four times higher than other ethnicities.  Asthma and pollution are also high-risk factors for COVID-19 infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn people with moderate to severe asthma may be at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. In addition, a Harvard University study has linked high air pollution levels to COVID-19 mortality rates.  


“Children with asthma and their families are in a daily struggle to prevent asthma attacks without real-time information about the exposures they are facing.  An Asthma Heat Map and Alert will be an important new tool for parents to keep children healthy, minimize their exposure to pollution, and advocate at the community level to stop pollution at its source,” said Rachel Wick, Senior Program Officer at Blue Shield of California Foundation.


Blue Shield of California Foundation’s Designing the Future of Health program funds the Map with the Alert supported by the Knight Foundation’s Building Smarter More Engaged Community Through Data Initiative.


“This project meets residents where they are — on platforms they recognize, and in the cities they know — to show that we can engage residents with data and create more responsive communities,” said Lilian Coral, Knight’s director for national strategy and technology innovation.  “Utilized well, open data could help local governments effectively tackle major community issues, such as the health effects of pollution.”



Ray Cheung

Executive Director,


SmartAirLA is a public-private partnership to empower underserved communities in Los Angeles suffering from pollution with the data and technology to improve their health and environment.  We are recognized as the Most Innovative Project to Improve the Safety-Net by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services and the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County.


Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma (LBACA) is a community coalition dedicated to improving the lives of children with asthma in the greater Long Beach area. LBACA’s long-term goal is to improve clinical outcomes for children with asthma including the reduction in preventable hospitalizations, emergency department visits, missed school days & caregiver missed work days due to asthma, and enhanced quality of life measures. LBACA is part of the Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital (MCWH) continuum of care, which was recently recognized for the third time for its model of asthma care. MCWH remains the only free-standing children’s hospital in California, and only one of 13 hospitals in the nation, to receive the Disease Specific Certification in Pediatric Asthma from The Joint Commission. This re-certification denotes the highest honor for quality and excellence in patient care for children with asthma.


Advancement Project California is a multi-racial, multi-generational racial justice organization with expertise in research, advocacy, and policy. We work with partners and communities to expand educational opportunities for California’s children; create healthy and safe neighborhoods; ensure communities of color have a voice in our democracy; strengthen movement-building; and shift public investments toward programs that benefit all Californians—not just the privileged few.

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