Clearing the Air: APPlying Informatics to Reduce Traffic Congestion in Greater Cincinnati

EPA Grant Number: SU835703
Title: Clearing the Air: APPlying Informatics to Reduce Traffic Congestion in Greater Cincinnati
Investigators: Curran, Christine Perdan , Hart, Zachary
Current Investigators: Curran, Christine Perdan , Zekic, Arnela , Marini, Carolina , Hockenbury, Jesse , Ollier, Katie , Brown, Kelsie , Lyons, Morgan , Hart, Zachary
Institution: Northern Kentucky University
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2014 through August 14, 2015
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2014) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Sustainable and Healthy Communities , P3 Challenge Area - Air Quality , P3 Awards , Sustainable and Healthy Communities


Vehicle emissions are a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and photochemical smog. Greater Cincinnati suffers from higher asthma rates than the national average and is often in non-attainment with EPA Clean Air guidelines for ozone and particulates (PM2.5). The region has frequently been cited as one of the worst areas in the country for air quality. The region’s geographical location exacerbates the problem by trapping air pollutants in the Ohio River Valley. Highway traffic also leads to reduced water quality with stormwater runoff. Reducing vehicle miles traveled also greatly reduces energy consumption.


Our goal is to reduce vehicle miles traveled by increasing transit use and carpooling in the Greater Cincinnati region. The short-term goal is to reduce congestion and the need for new parking garages on the Northern Kentucky University campus by reducing vehicle miles traveled by students and employees. The long-term goal is to develop effective marketing materials that can be adopted by other large employers in the region so that the region comes into attainment with U.S. EPA Clean Air standards for ozone and particulates.


The project will extend work done under a previous partnership with the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK) and Northern Kentucky University. The project will identify key characteristics to incentivize NKU commuters to carpool or use mass transit by employing social media technology and app development. Product testing and marketing research will used to quantify the effectiveness of different strategies to promote transit and carpooling. Ultimately, this would significantly decrease the number of single occupancy vehicles on campus each day.

Expected Results:

Outputs include educational materials to encourage carpooling and transit use and a storyboard for a commuter app to facilitate carpooling and transit use to/from Northern Kentucky University. The prototype app would incorporate “gamification” and would be scalable and adaptable to other large universities and employers. It will be designed to work on all major cell phone platforms (i.e. I-phone, Android, and Windows). Outcomes include: increased awareness about the risks associated with traffic-related air pollution, identification of key characteristic, messages and incentives most likely to change commuter behavior, and identification of neighborhoods most suitable for a more intensive carpool and transit campaign.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 2 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

energy savings, fossil fuels, sustainability

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report