Grace Simrall

Standing at table, judging student teams at Derbyhacks, a major league hackathaon, held at the University of Louisville engineering garage earlier this year.

Grace Simrall
Chief of Civic Innovation and Technology
Louisville Metro Government
Louisville, Kentucky


Metro Louisville’s distinction of being the “allergy capital of the US” is not without merit: An estimated 90,000 of its 760,000 residents have asthma. Local governments wanted to find out why and do something about it.


The metro created Air Louisville, a public-private partnership, to measure where residents were having asthma attacks instead of simply measuring air quality. To do this, 1,147 residents suffering from asthma or COPD were enrolled in a year-long study. Each participant was given a GPS-enabled sensor that took a geo-location and time-stamp every time they used their rescue inhaler and controller medication.

By passively collecting the data, we are getting a hyper-local view of where the hot spots are in our city,” Grace says. The participants’ doctors and nurses also agreed to take part by reviewing the data and making individual health recommendations. At the end of the study, patients were able to decrease the use of their rescue inhalers by 82%.

The data also confirmed for the metro that sources of vehicle and industrial pollution are causing public health problems, Grace says.

Next steps include continuing to hold companies accountable by enforcing regulations, and mitigating the direct impact of pollution, eg, by traffic re-timing, as well as planting walls of mature trees near roadways plagued by vehicle congestion.

Grace’s Background

Born in Lansing, MI, and grew up in Macomb, IL (pop 20,000), the county seat where, if the Mississippi River flooded, “it was a big deal.” Left for public boarding school, the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora, where she finished high school. BS in geophysical science from University of Chicago (‘01). Her top hobby: sampling different cuisines. Favorite dish is kitfo (Ethiopian steak tartar).

Grace’s Job

Oversees four strategy focus areas: 1) the smart city as it intersects with the smart home; 2) public-private partnerships around health; 3) social innovation; and 4) community engagement.

Startling Fact

Plays strategic board games; just came back from competing at Gen Con’s 50th anniversary in Indianapolis. Game of choice: “Ticket to Ride.”

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