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Colombian Students Recognized for Addressing Public Health Concerns Regarding Air Quality

The Marconi Society is dedicated to supporting and connecting with the future generation of technical innovators who have a passion for making a positive impact. The Celestini Program, created by our Young Scholars, partners with universities, businesses and governments worldwide to empower students in underserved areas to solve local issues with technology.

The Celestini Program provides mentorship, resources and funding to students so they can address these problems, work toward a solution and showcase their accomplishments. Each year, a global panel of experts evaluates student projects for feasibility, technical acumen and impact.

Seven teams participated in the program this year – five from India and two from Colombia. Selecting the top Celestini project was more difficult than ever because each of the projects was so strong.

Our panel of experts did select one project that stood out. A group of four talented students from Medellín, Colombia implemented a solution for their local air quality problem through their “Emissions Monitoring System in Urban Vehicles” project. The team members include Samuel Abad Carrasco, Juan Manuel Gomez, Álvaro Javier Vargas, and Maria Clara Vargas.

Vehicle emissions contribute to high rates of particulate matter in the air and these emissions are linked to public health risks including respiratory diseases, such as pneumonia, and chronic diseases, such as lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. It is estimated that poor air quality cost Colombia nearly 2% of its GDP in 2015. While the region has tried programs including car-free city centers and restricted driving hours, pollution levels have not fallen significantly.

The team recognized that there is a lack of information available about the level of these high concentrations of pollutant gases. Without this information, it is difficult to gain support for environmental policies.

The students developed a prototype using Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and associated software to collect atmospheric emissions data (NOx, COx, PM2.5, PM10) in real-time. The students utilized cellular technology to synchronize communication of this data back to a central processing module.

Their sensing device proved successful when put to the test. The students hooked the tool up to a running vehicle, and the technology accurately recorded the emissions data and sent it back to the central cloud platform, paving the way for crowd-source environmental data.

The Marconi Society congratulates this group of creative and motivated students for everything they contributed to their community, including their innovative solution and appetite for making a difference.

We also want to recognize the other outstanding Celestini Projects:

VisionAir (Delhi, India)

TEAM MEMBERS: Divyanshu Sharma, Harshita Diddee, Shivam Grover, Shivani Jindal

Four students from Delhi tackled their local air pollution issue by developing a new smartphone technology designed to calculate a user’s surrounding air quality index (AQI). People can use this information to take appropriate action to protect themselves from dangerous particulate matter in the air. Delhi’s air quality issue has been linked to millions of premature deaths and illnesses. Since current AQI monitoring methods are not sufficient to keep the public safe, the students developed an Android application that captures images to identify the presence of particulate matter in the air by tracking the way light is scattered. The application analyzes the image’s entropy, contrast and haze degree to produce an accurate AQI metric. This technology protects user privacy, and data cannot be traced back to the user.

Rakshak (Delhi, India)

TEAM MEMBERS: Subham Banga, Ujjwal Upadhyay

India is ranked as the most dangerous country in the world for women. Women and girls in India experience physical and sexual abuse every day, however very few seek help. Students from Delhi developed the Rakshak application to detect panic from the user through the phone’s microphone. The team created an “EmoSpeech Command” Dataset comprised of over 9,000 audio samples. The app detects keywords and emotional tones from the smartphone user when they are in danger, such as screaming “Help!” The app can identify running, screaming and keywords. There is a 30 second confirmation window before the app automatically sends alerts to the user’s emergency contacts.

TAVAS (Delhi, India)

TEAM MEMBERS: Bhrigu Kansra, Ambika, Jatin Katyal

Violence against women in India has steadily increased throughout the past decade, especially for women in urban areas who travel alone. Students from Delhi developed the TAVAS Android application to detect a user screaming or crying in real-time so that women can get help if they are in danger when traveling alone. The app records audio streams from the user and if distress is found, the user’s emergency contacts will be notified and given the GPS location of the traveler. The team collected audio samples from various sources and utilized the Celestini Audio Crowdsourcing Application. This application was developed for women to feel safer when traveling alone, and empower them to work outside the home.

Team 4 (Delhi, India)

TEAM MEMBERS: Raghav Bansal, Raman Kumar, Nayanika Biswas, Sahil

Long exposure to air pollution can cause various diseases and early deaths. Students from Delhi recognized the poor Air Quality Index (AQI) issue in their area and proposed their Android Application as a solution. Motor vehicle emissions are a large contributor to air pollution, specifically NOx and particulate matter. This application is equipped to provide the user with the pollution status at their location for the next 15 minutes. The app identifies the nearest pollution station and retrieves traffic data using the TOMTOM API. The app functions by using API calls to identify the NOx concentrations and nearby traffic in real-time.

AROUND (Delhi, India)

TEAM MEMBERS: Ankur Bhatia, Dhawal Sharda

Delhi is one of the most polluted cities in the world. Poor air quality, largely as a result of economic activity, harms public health. The students developed “AROUND” so users can accurately monitor the air quality around them. This application allows people to monitor the air quality both inside and outside, and the technology makes predictions about future air quality levels. AROUND records (PM2.5), (PM10), (NO2), (CO) and (SO2) levels. The nearest pollution monitoring station is detected and the ambient air pollutant concentration data from this station is displayed on the android app in a graph.

Helpius (Colombia)

TEAM MEMBERS: Diana Carolina Cruz, Juan David Barragan, Brayan Andres Guevara, Elizabeth Andrea Lopez

Four students from Bogotá, Colombia address the high death rates from cardiovascular diseases through their Helpius heart monitor system. The team’s main focus was on arrhythmia, a heart condition where the heart beats too quickly, too slowly, or irregularly. The students developed a cardiac monitor so that patients with heart disease can be observed remotely and cardiac rhythm can be detected. The device first detects the subject’s real-time heart signal and classifies the beats as normal or abnormal. If too many abnormal beats are detected, the system will send alerts through SMS and WhatsApp. The app will also advise the user to see a doctor. The monitor records the beat data and uploads it on the Helpius application. Additionally, this data serves as a tool for specialists to identify anomalies.

Congratulations to all of the students who participated in the Celestini Program this year.  Thank you for your hard work and innovative solutions.