UNBOUND Air Quality Data Workshop Report Released

This Understanding Needs to Broaden Outside Use of NASA Data (UNBOUND) workshop assessed how to connect users with air quality data.

During spring 2023, NASA’s Understanding Needs to Broaden Outside Use of NASA Data (UNBOUND) project and Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) brought together data users from 14 organizations to discuss barriers to accessing NASA’s air quality data and potential new ways for using these data. The report on the three-part UNBOUND for Air Quality workshop series is now available.

"This workshop is another example of NASA’s commitment to removing all barriers to making our uniquely large and important data resources directly and easily useable in solving the most salient real-world problems at global to very local scales," said Dr. Gerald Guala, NASA UNBOUND project leader. "We want every community of users who can benefit from NASA air quality data to be able to use it as easily and efficiently as possible, and this workshop is about finding out exactly what they need from us to do that."

The UNBOUND project seeks to make NASA data, tools, and resources more usable and accessible to a broader community. Air quality is one of several high-priority data domains identified by NASA’s Earth Science Division (ESD). Previous workshops explored needs for using NASA’s species distribution models and environmental justice data.

The UNBOUND Air Quality workshops examined how community members could discover, explore, and use air quality data, including identifying barriers to using these data. The report documents participant feedback and top recommendations from users in academic research labs, small and locally focused community-based organizations, larger non-governmental organizations, and state agencies. All participants had high levels of technical skills that spanned several programming and geospatial domains. 

The biggest challenge users identified for using NASA air quality data was data accessibility.

“NASA has an enormous amount of amazingly useful data that communities concerned about air quality can use in myriad ways,” said Daniel Fleischer, a workshop participant from Hyphae Design Laboratory. “But being aware of, locating, obtaining, and analyzing [these] data is still challenging for most people, even for those with advanced technical backgrounds in remote sensing. Workshops like this can both help users understand the scope of NASA's data offering and help NASA address the complex challenges of providing such a large and diverse collection of data to a large and diverse set of users.”

NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) offers almost 83 petabytes of openly available Earth science data that can help communities understand and solve some of the most pressing environmental issues, including air quality and environmental justice. 

The next UNBOUND workshop series will focus on coastal processes and is tentatively scheduled to take place in fall 2023. Information about this and other upcoming workshops will be posted on the Earthdata UNBOUND page.