Communicating an Air Quality Monitoring Park Bench

air-quality-monitoring-researchImagine a park bench that can conducts air quality monitoring of certain types of air pollutants and weather data while sending all the data directly to a website minute-by-minute! This nifty research project is called the Village Green Project, and was created by EPA scientists in RTP, N.C. It was placed outside of Durham County South Regional Library in June and is completely solar-powered.

I helped lead the communications campaign with it so as to bump up awareness and encourage people from local communities to check it out! This was a huge campaign and took many months to plan. The team and I worked with many people in different areas of EPA as well as outside partners including the library and Durham County. It was well worth it.

My biggest joy out of this communications campaign was designing the Village Green Project’s information sign that stands right next to the system itself. This sign explains how this technology conducts its air quality monitoring and allows those in the community to check out the data in real-time! I started from scratch and developed a bright and fun infographic:

I also assisted in writing and developing the press release, invitational letter to various officials, and the fact sheet. These items helped get the word out about the ribbon-cutting ceremony that took place in June as well as general information for those who visit the project in the future.

Village Green Project sign
I designed this sign using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, and it currently resides beside this bench in Durham, NC, as well as other benches in other places that were installed later. Along with describing the who, what, why, how, when and where aspects of this research project, it includes an Air Quality Index (AQI) chart and QR codes that allow you to interact with the bench’s data on a smartphone. The most notable aspect is the LCD screen that informs you of the current AQI, meteorological conditions, and amount of energy the device is using.

Another area that I was very involved in was social media. I crafted many Tweets and even live tweeted at the event (@EPAresearch // #villagegreen). Ialso worked on posts for the EPA’s Facebook, Foursquare and Google+ accounts relating to the project. We are also watching analytics regarding the outreach with Google Analytics, Maxamine and social media outreach.
The opening day of the Village Green Project bench outside the Durham library in North Carolina.
When the day of the event came, I was filming various areas of the celebration while photographing, too. It was a huge hit with some media outlets appearing and officials making speeches and cutting the ribbon in front of the bench.

This campaign and research project allowed me to experience deadline pressures, the ability to work with internal and external partners in a timely manner, and the mastery of juggling many different tasks. This research project communications campaign gave me a real-life experience in the communications area, one that I know will help me in future situations.