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Informational Only

This challenge is no longer accepting new submissions.

EmPOWER Air Data Challenge

Developing Innovative Analyses Using Emissions and Air Quality Monitoring Data

Environmental Protection Agency

Type of Challenge: Analytics, visualizations and algorithms
Submission Start: 12/09/2019 09:00 AM ET
Submission End: 03/02/2020 11:59 PM ET


The Clean Air Markets Division (CAMD) is responsible for monitoring emissions from sources covered by air quality programs like the Acid Rain Program and Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. To support these programs, CAMD collects Power Sector Emissions Data, a robust dataset of emissions and operations information from over 4,000 electricity generating units (available online at, such as:

  • Emissions of SO2, NOX, mercury, and CO2
  • Operating parameters, like heat input and gross electricity output
  • Facility attributes, like location, fuel types, monitoring systems, and air pollution controls

Additionally, in cooperation with the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and many other partners, CAMD also operates the Clean Air Status and Trends Network (CASTNET) monitoring program to assess long-term trends in air quality and deposition used to provide accountability for EPA’s emission reduction programs. CASTNET provides weekly gaseous (SO2, HNO3) and particulate (SO42-, NO3-, NH4+, K+, Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, Cl-) concentrations at more than 90 sites (available online at Hourly concentrations of ground-level O3 are also provided at most monitoring sites to support the National Ambient Air Quality Standards and assess regional and international transport of emissions.

CAMD is looking to academic and research institutions to propose practical and replicable projects that benefit academic institutions, the environment, and the public. We will be looking for proposals for innovative and creative uses of CAMD data that should advance the knowledge, use, and understanding of CAMD data and related information, with priority on the following key project themes:

  • Analyzing data: Answer timely and relevant research questions using CAMD data
  • Enhancing communications: Design new and innovative ways to present CAMD data to the public
  • Developing technology and data mashups: Develop new technologies or analytic methods to integrate CAMD data with other datasets to unlock the broader potential of CAMD data
  • Promoting environmental education: Explore opportunities to use CAMD data in high school or university classrooms
  • Improving data quality: Identify and apply algorithms (e.g., machine learning) to electronically audit CAMD data and enhance data quality


As a challenge winner, you will receive direct support from EPA CAMD staff experts to answer questions and assist you with CAMD tools and data analysis as you complete your project. In addition, you can expect to:

  • Receive national recognition for your university or organization, students, and project activities by being featured on the EmPOWER Air Data Challenge webpage and offered opportunities to speak at conferences and events
  • Collaborate with EPA and peers to advance power sector-related research and knowledge
  • Participate in special networking events and webinars
  • Improve understanding of and solve timely and relevant environmental problems
  • Gain practical experience working on environmental issues with EPA

While no funding is available for these projects, existing grants may be leveraged by participants, and we suggest that applicants reach out to their communities or other organizations for additional financial support, if needed.


Anyone who is affiliated with an accredited college or university, or a research organization (e.g., think tank) is encouraged to apply. Proposed projects may range from one semester to one academic year. Applicants may include:

  • Academic faculty and researchers
  • Undergraduate/graduate students with faculty leadership
  • PhD candidates
  • Post-doctoral researchers
  • Research fellows

Applicants may work as individuals or teams. If applying as an individual, you must meet one of the criteria listed above for the duration of the project. If applying as a team, then the team leader must meet one of the above criteria for the duration of the project, but other team members need not be limited to the list above. Teams may be composed of individuals from more than one institution.

Judging Criteria

EPA will evaluate the technical merit of each submission using the following factors:

  • Clarity and Effectiveness of Proposed Approach (40 points)
    • Demonstrates innovative and effective technical approach(es)
    • Describes how the proposed project supports EmPOWER Air Data Challenge objectives
    • Identifies project schedule and project milestones
  • Project Outcomes (40 points)
    • Describes specific results and/or products that will be developed
    • Describes overall project benefits to stakeholders, other colleges/universities, and/or students
    • Discusses how the project advances research and knowledge
    • Identify specific project-related metrics
  • Partner Capabilities (20 points)
    • Briefly states why you're interested in your proposed project
    • Describes qualifications of Project Team and/or Project Director
    • Discusses student involvement, if applicable

How To Enter

Submissions should include:

Submissions should not exceed eight pages (excluding the Application Form).

All materials should be submitted electronically in either PDF or Microsoft Word document format to