Residents of Louisville, Kentucky, have a higher-than-average rate of breathing disorders such as asthma, but studies of pollutants and allergens in city's Ohio River Valley topology have been inconclusive. The city embraced a data-driven approach to the problem early this year by partnering with Asthmapolis, a Madison, Wisconsin-based company that developed a GPS- and Bluetooth-enabled inhaler and companion smartphone app that precisely logs when and where patients administer their medication. The app makes it easy for patients and doctors to track the use of medication while healthcare providers and municipalities see the bigger picture: precisely mapped data on breathing incidents.
Louisville won an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge Grant in March to bolster its data-driven approach. "We wanted advice on what other data sets to mash up against this new data on asthma episodes," Ted Smith, chief of economic growth & innovation for Metro Louisville, told InformationWeek.
Louisville has data available from air pollution monitors and traffic sensors, which Smith described as obvious data sources, but following a three-week fact-finding trip to Louisville in July, IBM recommended, among other measures, developing data-sharing plans with the Commonwealth of Kentucky, area healthcare systems, school systems, the housing authority and the tree advisory board, among other stakeholders.
"The IBM team brought a number of different angles to the problem, including bringing the schools into the discussion," Smith said, noting that data on absenteeism will help shed light on the impact of asthma on area youth. "They also pointed out data available from the federal government and the state that we didn't know existed."
IBM's report was issued in September and about half of the 500 Asthmapolis inhalers the city has purchased have now been distributed, so the bulk of the data collection, integration and analysis work has yet to be done.