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Know how clean the air is by turning on a Philips Hue smart lightbulb

Why it matters to you

If a problem arose with the air quality in your city, wouldn't you want an additional assurance that you would receive a warning?

In heavily congested cities, air quality can be a big concern. Because you can’t really see it, it’s hard to know whether you’re going to be breathing in the fresh outdoors or fresh exhaust. The World Health Organization warns that air pollution can affect the likelihood of heart disease, lung cancer, and strokes. Wouldn’t it be convenient if you already knew the air quality without having to research it?

In Louisville, Kentucky, the city has launched a channel on IFTTT that can alert a number of different smart gadgets about the city’s air quality. Whether it’s color-changing lightbulbs or a smartphone app, you can be alerted when it’s not safe to spend too much time outside. This marks the first city to launch a channel on the platform.

For those who are new to smart devices, IFTTT is a free internet service that allows you to build “If this, then that” statements. These work to connect different devices, social networks, and services. With the Smart Louisville channel, there are nine different ways to be alerted on air quality.

For example, Philips Hue lightbulbs can be instructed to change color based on air quality. If the lights are green, you’re safe. Yellow and orange begin to signify problems for sensitive people. Anything red or dark warns you of unhealthy to hazardous air conditions.

This move to a connected alert system with modern technology is one of many ways cities are working to become “smart cities.” In this example, Louisville has established partnerships between the local government and civic-minded hackers to connect citizens to the data the city collects.

Of course, not everyone can afford to outfit their home with smart devices or AI assistants. That’s part of the challenge Louisville faces when making sure this info gets to everyone. TheĀ Smart LouisvilleĀ IFTTT channel makes the information much more accessible. IFTTT is already a free service, and some of the recipes don’t require a smart device to function.

“That’s how Louisville will become more connected to the average citizen,” said City Data Officer Michael Schnuerle in a statement to CNET.

As long as you can open a text message, read an email, or look at a lightbulb, every citizen of Louisville has the opportunity to know their city’s air quality before they step outside.