Bringing Block-by-Block Air Quality Mapping to San Diego County

5 min read
May 28 2019

From Los Angeles to the Bay Area, and California’s Central Valley, Aclima is helping to drive new policies and actions to improve air quality throughout California. Building on this momentum, we are happy to announce that San Diego County is working with Aclima to map hyper-local air quality in environmental justice communities to support monitoring and emissions reduction efforts outlined in AB 617, a law tackling California’s air quality concerns.

Aclima’s air quality mapping and analysis platform provides next-generation diagnostics of critical air pollutants — from carbon dioxide and ozone to particulate matter — at unprecedented block-by-block resolution. Aclima’s platform delivers hyperlocal air quality data and web tools that will allow the local community to engage with that data and help governments to diagnose problems, manage emissions, and take action.

Aclima mobile mapping vehicle presented at the press conference in Chicano Park in San Diego.
Source: Aclima

Like many urbanized areas of California, San Diego County’s air quality issues result from the combination of emissions from transportation, goods movement, and industry and surrounding mountainous geography to trap the resulting air pollution. According to the American Lung Association, San Diego County had the sixth-highest rate of ozone pollution in the country from 2015 to 2017. By adopting the Aclima platform, the County will obtain hyper-local air quality data to identify persistent hotspots, to better prioritize emissions reduction initiatives and policy interventions that reduce exposure in communities most impacted by air pollution.

San Diego County announced the mapping campaign at a press conference at San Diego’s Chicano Park on May 10 led by San Diego County Supervisors Greg Cox and Nathan Fletcher, Air Pollution Control District Director Robert Kard and Assistant Director John Adams, Port Commissioner Rafael Castellanos, Sandy Naranjo of Mothers Out Front, Joy Williams and teammates of the Environmental Health Coalition, and members of the local community.

San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox explaining mobile air quality monitoring. Source: Aclima

Speaking at the press conference on the importance of better air quality data, Supervisor Greg Cox explained the Air Pollution Control District’s new effort to conduct community level air quality monitoring through the use of stationary ground level monitors at 15 different locations throughout the portside community and Aclima’s mobile air quality mapping platform gathering air pollution data across the entire community. He added, “Batman may have his Batmobile to fight crime but we’re going to use our smog-tracking car to fight pollution! This has never been done in the region before. The data collected through mobile monitoring in this car behind me will help us identify where we should be placing air pollution monitors in the community and identify hot spots that we may need to investigate immediately.”

San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher at press conference podium. Source: Aclima

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher spoke about the opportunities to learn from the air quality mapping campaign statewide, “This granular view of emissions will allow the Steering Committee, the Air Pollution Control District, and CARB to pinpoint exactly where we need to implement air pollution control techniques. Hopefully we can replicate the lessons learned here and throughout the entire state.”

“If we can monitor it, we can better address it. But the monitoring alone will not improve the air quality; it’s the data we get from monitoring that will hold us accountable for actions we take to actually improve air quality.”

— San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher

Supervisor Fletcher also addressed the importance of including local communities in the development of air pollution reduction plans. He said, “Regulatory agencies should partner with the community, should listen to the community, should engage with the community, and should take action that will help address the challenges the community knows well. The Community Air Protection Program is a new way to think about improving air quality in our communities and the Steering Committee really is the anchor to begin to drive the fundamental change that we need.”

Following Supervisor Fletcher, Sandy Naranjo, the California Organizing Manager at Mothers Out Front and member of the AB 617 Steering Committee, shared the challenges faced by the local community in these areas, who for decades have dealt with the health and quality of life issues caused by pollution from the nearby shipyards, railways, and freeway traffic. She explained, “our communities know firsthand the effects of toxic air pollution, as our children are diagnosed with severe asthma in the ER at higher rates than any other San Diego community.” Regarding the County’s mobile mapping campaign, she said, “this transformational investment for the portside Environmental Justice communities means that we can utilize community intelligence to identify and quantify the actual air quality impacts. Aclima enables our community members to participate in the science where they are able to measure, monitor and reduce toxic air pollution.” We look forward to displaying the data in our citizen-facing website developed in collaboration with local communities, where the public can interact with and learn from hyper-local air quality mapping, and be more informed on the matter to take action on air quality issues in their community.

Sandy Naranjo of Mothers Out Front. Source: Aclima

“Finally, our communities will be at the table and make decisions that will help transform our communities into one that is safe and breathable for our children, and for our future generations.”

— Sandy Naranjo, California Organizing Manager at Mothers Out Front

The air quality mapping campaign in San Diego County is particularly special for the Aclima team. Co-founder and CEO, Davida Herzl, is a San Diego native, a University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and University of San Diego grad, and San Diego is where she started the company in 2008, with technology licensed out of UCSD.

“It’s incredible to bring our pollution mapping platform and tools to San Diego where Aclima got started almost ten years ago,” said Aclima CEO Davida Herzl. “I’m so proud of the leadership demonstrated by San Diego County and Supervisors Cox and Fletcher to deploy Aclima’s sensing superpowers to make air pollution visible and catalyze action to protect the health of communities in my hometown.”

Aclima’s initial air quality mapping in San Diego County started on March 1 and will continue through May. The hyper-local mapping campaign will cover 47 square miles covering almost 200,000 people living in the portside communities of Barrio Logan, Logan Heights, Sherman Heights and parts of National City. From a square mileage standpoint, this campaign is four times larger than the 11.6 square miles covered in Oakland, California for the groundbreaking study published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology. Aclima will present the findings from the measurement campaign to the County and the Community Steering Committee in June.

Watch the full press conference via the County of San Diego’s Facebook page.

Watch local news coverage on the event here:


To learn more about Aclima’s air quality mapping platform, get in touch at