A Matter Of Air by Aron Cohen, Aurelie Barbier, Julie McEldoon, Katrin Bichler

We are all impacted by the air we breathe. Between 2015 and 2017, air pollution in New York contributed to approximately 2,000 deaths and 4,000 hospital admissions per year. The quality of this air, the particles we find in it, and how vulnerable we are to it drastically depend on which neighborhood we live in.
This installation provides a live experience of the New York Community Air Survey’s (NYCASS) findings. Since 2009, the survey has monitored street-level air pollution and attributable health events for the 42 UHF (United Hospital Fund) neighborhoods of NYC.
The monitoring has led to regulations that improved air quality all over the city. However, while pollution hotspots have decreased, these improvements are not felt equally across all neighborhoods. Are the communities with the highest air pollution experiencing the worst health impacts, or are there other factors at play?
The Installation
We explored 12 years of fine particulate matter as space-time cubes for 42 neighborhoods of NYC. This installation visualizes the voxel layer created with space-time mining analysis.
Each of the 42 LED strings represent a given neighborhood’s data. Each LED represents an annual data point and each string contains 12 LEDs, so every string shows 12 years worth of results or values. The health impact data ranges from 2005-2016, the air pollution survey spans from 2009-2020, and the poverty level is given for 2019.
The most recent point is at the top of the string and the oldest is at the bottom.
The colors of the LEDs show how the data is trending. Hotspots light up red (trending up); cold spots are displayed in blue (trending down).
The installation cycles through 5 datasets:
Space-time mining representation on: Fine Particulate Matter, Asthma in Children, Respiratory Hospitalizations, and Cardiovascular Events
Poverty level in 2019
Our interactive panel gives more information on each dataset, including specific figures and data collection process. The LED next to each paragraph shows which dataset is currently displayed and if you want to explore a particular set just push the button next to it.
For poverty levels, the LED string shows the percentage of people in poverty in the given neighborhood in 2019. Poverty levels experience more gradual changes than fine particulate matter and health impacts, therefore a hot-spot analysis showing trends was not effective in visualizing this type of data.