BFI NewsApr 08, 2019

EPIC’s Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) Named ‘World Changing Idea’ by Fast Company

The BFI Affiliated Center's Index was chosen out of more than 2,000 entries as a finalist for the award.

The Air Quality Life Index (AQLI), developed by Michael Greenstone, Milton Friedman Distinguished Service Professor in Economics, and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC), is being honored as a finalist for Fast Company’s 2019 World Changing Ideas Award in the Health and Wellness and AI + Data categories. This major annual award from Fast Company elevates brave concepts and innovative solutions that make the world better based on their potential for impact.

The AQLI, launched in November, converts particulate air pollution into its impact on life expectancy. Based on a pair of peer-reviewed studies co-authored by Greenstone that quantify the causal relationship between long-term exposure to particulate pollution and life expectancy, the results from these studies are then combined with hyper-localized, global particulate matter measurements to form a robust, data-driven tool.  The tool, developed by the branding and digital design firm Constructive, allows users to zoom in on any district in the world and understand the impacts of that district’s local air pollution on life expectancy.

Since its introduction, the AQLI has been highlighted by close to 300 media outlets, reaching more than a billion people worldwide. The tool itself has been used by about 30,000 people in 161 countries and is accessible in both English and Mandarin. Individual analyses of top polluters are available in five languages.

As a finalist for the World Changing Ideas Award, the AQLI was selected by a panel of eminent judges from a pool of more than 2,000 entries from across the globe. Other honorees include eBay’s HeadGaze technology that makes mobile device applications accessible to people who can’t operate a traditional mouse; Siemens’ efforts to put Puerto Rico back on the power grid after Hurricane Maria; and Alibaba-owned food platform Eleme’s edible chopsticks.

The AQLI will be highlighted along with the other finalists in the May issue of the print magazine, which hits newsstands April 16.