2018 Champion City

Denver, CO : 2018 Winner

Improving Air Quality in the Mile High City

  • 693,060

  • Michael B. Hancock

  • Directly Elected Mayor

    Type of Government
  • 4 years

    Length of Term
  • Health

    Issue Area

The Problem

Denver families spend an average of $3,100 a year on asthma-related medical costs, resulting in more than $30 million spent annually.

The Idea

The City of Denver will work to improve air quality by installing cutting-edge air-pollution sensors around schools that will provide data to inform the city’s approach to making the air safer for all.

What Michael B. Hancock, Mayor of Denver, CO is saying:

We are…excited that the groundbreaking technology developed by our team may ultimately benefit children around the world. We look forward to using the air quality data captured by this technology to inform policy decisions on a community-wide basis here in the Mile High City.


Our Prototyping Journey

    Let's Go

  • How we are testing our idea

    Our idea will positively impact schools communities and reduce air pollution for everyone in Denver.

    Michael Ogletree, Air Quality Program Manager, DDPHE

    Denver is testing ideas at 3 of 10 pilot schools that have air sensors. Denver will conduct a series of behavioral experiments to test anti-idling prototypes (signs, reminders and ticketing) and ultimately a dashboard to help make more informed decisions.

  • Ideas into action

  • What we’re discovering through testing

    The Denver team has been working to engage schools in their idea before summer vacation. The team is learning that in order to gain buy-in from schools, they need to appeal to the school principals’ priorities - for instance, increasing academic achievement, rather than reducing the children’s exposure to air pollution. They are learning how to shape and communicate their program to suit the interests of different stakeholders.


    The team is co-creating their air quality dashboard through a series of focus groups with parents, teachers and nurses. Engaging parents to participate was relatively straightforward, but getting teachers involved wasn’t as easy. The team spoke at faculty events and emailed teachers; contacting 120 in total with only 2 teachers getting back. In the end, the team found more successful route was to engage one really passionate teacher, who was able to then engage others around the issue.

    Denver’s #MayorHancock knows #ClimateAction includes reducing the No. 1 source of city air pollution: #vehicles. The #mayorschallenge will help us monitor pollution in real time, make systems changes to reduce it near schools @ClimateMayors @CityofDenver https://bloombg.org/2O14lkz

    9:34 AM - 18 Jul 2018   DDPHE  
  • Reflections

  • What we've learned

    The Denver team found that including parents in the development of their idea was extremely valuable and motivating. Not only did the parents shine a light on how the school dashboards could be improved - by sharing their concerns about the impact of air pollution on their childrens' future, parents brought a real sense of purpose to the project. The team is now pushing for this community-centered approach to be incorporated into the development of all equity and health policies across the city.