Skip Navigation
United States

Air Quality Data Available (US0095)



Action Plan: United States Action Plan 2015-2017

Action Plan Cycle: 2015

Status: Inactive


Lead Institution: The Department of State and the Environmental Protection Agency

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Access to Information, E-Government, Open Data

IRM Review

IRM Report: United States End-of-Term IRM Report 2015-2017, United States Mid-Term Report 2015-2017

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i



To promote the efficiend use of government resources, help protect the health of our personnel overseas, create partnerships on air quality with other nations, and contribute to the global scientific community, in February 2015, the Deparment of State and the Environmental Protection Agency launched a new parnership with a number of U.S. diplomatic missions overseas to enhance the availability of outdoor air quality data and expertise. The Department of State and the Environmental Protection Agency will expand that effort to include 20 global cities and will begin making that data available on the Environmental Protection Agency's AirNow website, which provides air quality information for more than 400 U.S. cities.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

IRM End of Term Status Summary

Commitment 43. Air Quality Data

Commitment Text:

Make Additional Air Quality Data Available

To promote the efficient use of government resources, help protect the health of our personnel overseas, create partnerships on air quality with other nations, and contribute to the global scientific community, in February 2015, the Department of State and the Environmental Protection Agency launched a new partnership with a number of U.S. diplomatic missions overseas to enhance the availability of outdoor air quality data and expertise. The Department of State and the Environmental Protection Agency will expand that effort to include 20 global cities and will begin making that data available on the Environmental Protection Agency’s AirNow website, which provides air quality information for more than 400 U.S. cities.

Responsible Institutions: Department of State, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Supporting Institutions: City government leaders

Start Date: Not specified...... ........ End Date: Not specified

Commitment Aim

This commitment aimed to expand the availability of air quality data by adding data for 20 global cities to the Department of State’s AirNow platform, [591] an online platform that stores and tracks air quality data.


Midterm: Substantial

At the midterm, this commitment was substantially completed. Per the government’s midterm self-assessment report, data from 14 global cities in eight countries was publicly available on the AirNow website as of mid-2016, with data collected via air quality monitors at US embassies and consulates. [592]

End of term: Complete

This commitment is complete. Data for 25 global cities was available on the AirNow website by the end of term, exceeding the commitment’s target of 20 cities. [593] The cities (as listed in order on the AirNow website) include: New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Hyderabad (India); Jakarta South and Jakarta Central (Indonesia); Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia); Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi (Vietnam); Bogota (Colombia); Lima (Peru); Addis Ababa Central, Addis Ababa International School (Ethiopia); Kampala (Uganda); Beijing, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenyang (China); Dhaka (Bangladesh); Abu Dhabi, Dubai (United Arab Emirates); Pristina (Kosovo); Kuwait City (Kuwait); Manama (Bahrain), Kathmandu Embassy, Phora Durbar Kathmandu (Nepal); and Colombo (Sri Lanka).

At the end of term, the government has begun to leverage the newly available AirNow data in a variety of ways. For example, through the Airnow-International Initiative (AirNow-I), the US Environmental Protection Agency offers analytical tools to help monitor and manage air quality data, specifically by allowing users to collect, aggregate, summarize, and visualize AirNow data in a variety of ways. [594] In addition to hosting several AirNow-I webinars in 2016, [595] the US Environmental Protection Agency actively maintains the “AirNow-I Community,” a global network of agencies and international organizations that “collect, collaborate, and share knowledge” on air quality data and management in the form of community-driven technical support, networking platforms, and webinars. [596]

Similarly, as part of Air Quality Awareness Week from 1–5 May 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency also undertook efforts to publicize AirNow’s global data both online [597] and through country-specific events, such as presentations on air quality for university and high school students in Indonesia, a blog post on Embassy-led air quality engagements in Ethiopia, an air quality event at the American Center Korea in South Korea, a panel discussion and roundtable in Vietnam, and an “Air Fair” day in China. [598] Separately, on 14 March 2017, the US Embassy in Nepal and the Ministry of Population and Environment held a joint ribbon-cutting ceremony to inaugurate a new Nepalese government’s Air Quality Monitoring (AQM) station alongside the US Embassy’s own AQM system, calling attention to air quality issues in Nepal.

Events such as these speak to the demand for better air quality data, and highlight ways in which the newly released AirNow data may eventually be used to improve global air quality.

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Marginal

This commitment marginally opened government with respect to access in the cities where US AQM stations are now installed.

On a macro-level, with respect to the government’s efforts to improve the availability of air quality information worldwide (which comprises the commitment’s core aim), the World Air Quality Index Project—a non-profit initiative providing real-time air quality measurements—noted that as of February 2017, there were roughly 9,000 air quality monitoring stations spread across 800 cities and 70 countries worldwide. [599] In the aggregate, the EPA’s AirNow platform coverage constitutes a relatively minor improvement in information availability when viewed against this backdrop (comprising roughly .25% of monitoring stations worldwide and 2.5% of all cities with air monitoring stations). On a micro-level, data from the World Air Quality Index Project indicates that within those cities covered by the AirNow platform, 22 out of 59 total active Air Quality Monitoring stations (roughly 37%) are US stations linked to AirNow, indicating a more substantial scope of coverage among those cities appearing on the AirNow platform. [600] Moreover, in 10 cities covered by the AirNow platform, the US government’s AQM stations are the only active stations providing real-time air quality measurements. [601]

The most relevant level of analysis for this commitment is the 25 cities covered by the AirNow platform, which aligns most closely with the intended expansion of city-level coverage described in the commitment text. Given that US air monitoring stations reporting data on the AirNow platform comprise a minority of all active reporting stations in the 25 cities they cover, the commitment cannot be said to have opened government more substantially. Still, the disclosure of air quality information, particularly in cities that lacked real-time monitors previously, is a positive development not only for the US citizens and embassy personnel stationed abroad, but also for local residents, who can likewise use the information for health preparedness.

Carried Forward?

At the time of writing, the United States had not published its fourth national action plan, so it is unclear if this commitment will be carried forward. The government should nevertheless continue efforts to expand the number of air quality monitoring stations in the 25 global cities where it currently operates, as well as in additional cities on an ongoing basis.

Moreover, while the government completed this commitment as specified, there is little concrete evidence of US-led attempts to utilize AirNow data to effect global improvements in air quality (either directly or indirectly). One clear example came earlier from Beijing in 2008–2013, where the US embassy’s installation of air quality monitors contributed to the Chinese government’s decision to install its own AQM system and implement pollution reduction targets. [602] In the future, the US government should consider engaging in more active efforts (either direct or indirect) to effect air quality improvements using AirNow’s global data, similar to what occurred in China.

[591] AirNow. “Homepage.” Consulted 2 July 2017.

[592] Open Government Partnership. “United States of America Midterm Self-Assessment Report for the Open Government Partnership: Third Open Government National Action Plan, 2015–2017.” pp.44-45. September 2016. Consulted 2 October 2017.

[593] Airnow “AirNow Department of State.” web archive from 11 July 2017, available at:

[594] AirNow-I. “Basics.” Last updated 10 April 2015. Consulted 4 September 2017.

[595] AirNow-I. “News.” Last updated 27 April 2016. Consulted 4 September 2017.

[596] AirNow-I. “Community.” Last updated 22 March 2017. Consulted 4 September 2017.

[597] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Air Quality Around the World.”4 May 2017. Consulted 4 September 2017.

[598] Ibid.

[599] World Air Quality Index. “Worldwide Air Quality Monitoring Data Coverage.” Consulted 26 September 2017.

[600] This analysis was performed by counting the total number of active air quality monitoring stations per city as indicated by the World Air Quality Index. All AirNow stations are included in the Index. See World Air Quality Index. “Homepage.” Consulted 26 September 2017.

[601] These cities include Addis Ababa, Bogota, Colombo, Dhaka, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Kampala, Lima, Manama, and Pristina. Ibid.

[602] Roberts, David. “How the US Embassy Tweeted to Clear Beijing’s Air.” Wired Magazine. 6 March 2015. Consulted 4 September 2017.


  1. Federal Data Strategy

    US0105, 2019, E-Government

  2. Grants Accountability

    US0106, 2019, E-Government

  3. Public Access to Federally Funded Research

    US0107, 2019, Access to Information

  4. Workforce Data Standards

    US0108, 2019, E-Government

  5. Chief Data Officers

    US0109, 2019, Access to Information

  6. Open Data for Public Health

    US0110, 2019, Access to Information

  7. Enterprise Objective

    US0111, 2019, Capacity Building

  8. Developing Future Action Plans

    US0112, 2019, Public Participation

  9. Reconstitution of the

    US0053, 2015, E-Government

  10. Accessibility of Government Information Online

    US0054, 2015, Marginalized Communities

  11. Access to Educational Resources

    US0055, 2015, Access to Information

  12. Public Listing of Every Address in the US

    US0056, 2015, Access to Information

  13. Informed Decisions About Higher Education.

    US0057, 2015, Access to Information

  14. New Authentication Tools to Protect Individual Privacy and Ensure That Personal Records Go Only to the Intended Recipients.

    US0058, 2015,

  15. Transparency of Open311

    US0059, 2015, E-Government

  16. Support Medicine Research Throught Opening up Relevant Data of the Field

    US0060, 2015, Access to Information

  17. Access to Workforce Data

    US0061, 2015, Access to Information

  18. Using Evidence and Concrete Data to Improve Public Service Delivery

    US0062, 2015, Capacity Building

  19. Expand Use of the Federal Infrastructure Permitting Dashboard

    US0063, 2015,

  20. Consolidation of Import and Export Systems

    US0064, 2015, E-Government

  21. Improving Government Records

    US0065, 2015, Access to Information

  22. Starred commitment Ammendments to FOIA

    US0066, 2015, Access to Information

  23. Streamline the Declassification Process

    US0067, 2015, Capacity Building

  24. Implement the Controlled Unclassified Information Program

    US0068, 2015, Access to Information

  25. Transparency of Privacy Programs and Practices

    US0069, 2015, Capacity Building

  26. Transparency of Federal Use of Investigative Technologies

    US0070, 2015, E-Government

  27. Increase Transparency of the Intelligence Community

    US0071, 2015, Access to Information

  28. Starred commitment Open Science Through Open Data

    US0072, 2015, Access to Information

  29. Open Data Portal

    US0073, 2015, E-Government

  30. Increase Transparency of Trade Policy and Negotiations

    US0074, 2015, E-Government

  31. Develop a Machine Readable Government Organizational Chart

    US0075, 2015, Access to Information

  32. Improving Public Participation

    US0076, 2015, Public Participation

  33. Expand Public Participation in the Development of Regulations

    US0077, 2015, Public Participation

  34. Civic Engagement in Decision-Making Processes

    US0078, 2015, Public Participation

  35. Open Mapping

    US0079, 2015, Access to Information

  36. Tracking OGP Implementation

    US0080, 2015, Public Participation

  37. Strengthening Whistleblower Protection

    US0081, 2015, Anti-Corruption

  38. Transparency of Legal Entities

    US0082, 2015, Anti-Corruption

  39. Extractive Industries Transparency

    US0083, 2015, Anti-Corruption

  40. Spending Transparency

    US0084, 2015, Access to Information

  41. Enhance the Use of U.S. Foreign Assistance Information

    US0085, 2015, Aid

  42. Participatory Budgets and Responsive Spending

    US0086, 2015, Fiscal Openness

  43. Expand Access to Justice to Promote Federal Programs

    US0087, 2015, Access to Justice

  44. Starred commitment Build Safer Communities with Police Open Data

    US0088, 2015, Access to Information

  45. Open Federal Data to Benefit Local Communities

    US0089, 2015, Access to Information

  46. Support the Municipal Data Network

    US0090, 2015, Access to Information

  47. Foster Data Ecosystems

    US0091, 2015, Capacity Building

  48. Extend Digital, Data-Driven Government to Federal Government’S Support for Communities

    US0092, 2015, Capacity Building

  49. Promote Implementation of SDGs

    US0093, 2015, Access to Information

  50. Starred commitment Promote Open Climate Data

    US0094, 2015, Access to Information

  51. Air Quality Data Available

    US0095, 2015, Access to Information

  52. Promote Food Security and Data Sharing for Agriculture and Nutrition

    US0096, 2015, Access to Information

  53. Promote Data Sharing About Global Preparedness for Epidemic Threats

    US0097, 2015, Capacity Building

  54. Promote Global Interconnectivity

    US0098, 2015, Aid

  55. Open Contracting

    US0099, 2015, Access to Information

  56. Harness the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development

    US0100, 2015, Access to Information

  57. Open Government to Support Global Sustainable Development

    US0101, 2015, Anti-Corruption

  58. Open Collaboration Onf the Arctic

    US0102, 2015, Environment and Climate

  59. Support Capacity Building for Extractives Transparency

    US0103, 2015, Anti-Corruption

  60. Support Responsible Investment and Business Practices for Companies

    US0104, 2015, Private Sector

  61. Improve Public Participation in Government

    US0027, 2013, Capacity Building

  62. Modernize Management of Government Records

    US0028, 2013, Records Management

  63. Modernize the Freedom of Information Act

    US0029, 2013, Access to Information

  64. Transform the Security Classification System

    US0030, 2013, Records Management

  65. Implement the Controlled Unclassified Information Program

    US0031, 2013, Security & Public Safety

  66. Increase Transparency of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Activities

    US0032, 2013, Data Stewardship and Privacy

  67. Make Privacy Compliance Information More Accessible

    US0033, 2013, E-Government

  68. Support and Improve Agency Implementation of Open Government Plans

    US0034, 2013,

  69. Strengthen and Expand Whistleblower Protections for Government Personnel

    US0035, 2013, Anti-Corruption

  70. Increase Transparency of Legal Entities Formed in the United States

    US0036, 2013, Fiscal Openness

  71. Starred commitment Implement the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

    US0037, 2013, Access to Information

  72. Make Fossil Fuel Subsidies More Transparent

    US0038, 2013, Anti-Corruption

  73. Starred commitment Increase Transparency in Spending

    US0039, 2013, Access to Information

  74. Increase Transparency of Foreign Assistance

    US0040, 2013, Aid

  75. Continue to Improve Performance.Gov

    US0041, 2013, E-Government

  76. Consolidate Import and Export Systems to Curb Corruption

    US0042, 2013, Private Sector

  77. Promote Public Participation in Community Spending Decisions

    US0043, 2013, Fiscal Openness

  78. Expand Visa Sanctions to Combat Corruption

    US0044, 2013, Anti-Corruption

  79. Further Expand Public Participation in the Development of Regulations

    US0045, 2013, Capacity Building

  80. Open Data to the Public

    US0046, 2013, Access to Information

  81. Continue to Pilot Expert Networking Platforms

    US0047, 2013, Public Participation

  82. Reform Government Websites

    US0048, 2013, E-Government

  83. Promote Innovation Through Collaboration and Harness the Ingenuity of the American Public

    US0049, 2013, Capacity Building

  84. Promote Open Education to Increase Awareness and Engagement

    US0050, 2013, E-Government

  85. Deliver Government Services More Effectively Through Information Technology

    US0051, 2013, E-Government

  86. Increase Transparency in Spending

    US0052, 2013, Access to Information

  87. Reform Records Management

    US0001, 2011, Public Participation

  88. Lead a Multi-Agency Effort

    US0002, 2011, Capacity Building

  89. Monitor Agency Implementation of Plans

    US0003, 2011, Public Participation

  90. Provide Enforcement and Compliance Data Online

    US0004, 2011, Access to Information

  91. Advocate for Legislation Requiring Meaningful Disclosure

    US0005, 2011, Legislation & Regulation

  92. Apply Lessons from Recovery Act to Increate Spending Transparency

    US0006, 2011, Fiscal Openness

  93. Government-Wide Reporting Requirements for Foreign Aid

    US0007, 2011, Access to Information

  94. Use Performanc.Gov to Improve Government Performance and Accountability

    US0008, 2011, Public Participation

  95. Overhaul the Public Participation Interface on Regulations.Gov

    US0009, 2011, Legislation & Regulation

  96. Launch Expertnet

    US0010, 2011, E-Government

  97. Launch International Space Apps Competition

    US0011, 2011, E-Government

  98. Launch “We the People”

    US0012, 2011, E-petitions

  99. Open Source “We the People”

    US0013, 2011, E-petitions

  100. Develop Best Practices and Metrics for Public Participation

    US0014, 2011, Capacity Building

  101. Professionalize the FOIA Administration

    US0015, 2011, Access to Information

  102. Harness the Power of Technology

    US0016, 2011, Access to Information

  103. Advocate for Legislation on Whistleblower Protection

    US0017, 2011, Anti-Corruption

  104. Explore Executive Authority to Protect Whistleblowers

    US0018, 2011, Anti-Corruption

  105. Implement the EITI

    US0019, 2011, Anti-Corruption

  106. Partnership to Build on Recent Progress

    US0020, 2011, Anti-Corruption

  107. Promote Data.Gov to Spur Innovation Through Open Sourcing

    US0021, 2011, Access to Information

  108. Data.Gov: Foster Communities on Data.Gov

    US0022, 2011, Access to Information

  109. Begin Online National Dialogue with the American Public

    US0023, 2011, Public Participation

  110. Update Government-Wide Policies for Websites

    US0024, 2011, Public Participation

  111. Promote Smart Disclosure to Ensure Timely Release of Information

    US0025, 2011, Access to Information

  112. Publish Guidelines on Scientific Data

    US0026, 2011, Access to Information

Open Government Partnership