Delhi among 3 global cities part of Nasa's air pollution challenge
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) has partnered with a crowdsourcing platform to launch ‘Air-othon’, a competition aimed at utilising a combination of meteorological data, low cost-sensors and satellite imagery to develop models for air pollution in Delhi, Los Angeles and Taipei.
It has invited individuals and teams to analyse a 5x5 km grid in the three cities, and the data gathered in this manner will be shared with the US embassy in Delhi and the Delhi government. The winning team will be receiving a prize of $50,000.
Launched on Tuesday in Houston, Texas, the ‘Air-othon’ challenge is being undertaken with DrivenData, a social enterprise that uses data tools, and HeroX, a crowdsourcing platform, to generate daily estimates of surface-level NO2 and PM 2.5 across a 5km grid of the participant’s choosing.
While high NO2 levels can lead to respiratory and asthma issues and the formation of other harmful pollutants, such as ozone and particulate matter, PM2.5 (particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in size) is known to penetrate deep into human lungs, resulting in major health concerns in the long-term.
‘Air-othon’ officials said existing ground monitors have large gaps in coverage, which can be bridged using forecasting and real-time data models.
“This is a difficult problem where better data tools can provide timely information to millions of people to help them protect their health,” said Greg Lipstein, co-founder of DrivenData.
“The challenge will test solutions from a global community of experts, with the best approaches automatically rising to the top of the leaderboard,” he added.
Experts said models that make use of widely available, low-cost sensor data and satellite imagery also have the potential to provide daily local air quality information to thousands of people. “This effort prioritises the health of entire communities. I am eager to see the innovative ways the crowd can improve air quality data collection and enhance public health,” said Kal K Sahota, CEO, HeroX.
A Nasa official said the overarching goal of the challenge is to deliver top-performing solutions to the state department at designated embassy locations, including Delhi.
Professor SN Tripathi from IIT Kanpur, who is part of a CPCB committee that is looking at the utilisation of low-cost sensors, said satellite imagery can be used to identify NOx levels, while PM 2.5 data can be utilised from low-cost sensors and fed into a machine which analyses concentration levels at different time stamps. “Machine learning is possible and models can be developed that forecast concentration several hours in advance. Such learnings can be beneficial for India too,” he said.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police on Thursday claimed to have solved the Baramulla grenade attack case on a liquor shop with the arrest of four Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists and a terror associate. The police identified the four militants as Shahid Showkat Bala, Safeer Ahmad Mir, Moh Maroof Saleh and Faisal Shaban Gojri, all residents of Baramulla while their associate Hatif Ahmad Sofi was from Arampora.
With the police constable recruitment exam question paper leak turning out to be a major embarrassment for the Himachal government in the election year, chief minister Jai Ram Thakur on Thursday said that those found guilty will not be spared. Two days ago, Jai Ram had announced that his government will hand over the investigations of the paper leak case to the CBI after it concluded that the probe spanned several states.
US undersecretary and special coordinator for Tibetan issues Uzra Zeya received an audience with Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Thursday morning at The Dalai Lama's official residence at Mcleodganj in Dharamshala. Sikyong (president) of Central Tibetan Administration Penpa Tsering, kalon (minister) of CTA's information and international department Norzin Dolma, representative Namgyal Choedup and members of Zeya delegation were also present.
Panic gripped the residents of Janetpur, Dera Bassi, after a woman and some children spotted a leopard in the fields around 11 am on Thursday. Villagers informed the police, who alerted the wildlife department. Swinging into action, the department set up a cage to trap the wild cat and made announcements asking people to stay indoors. A wildlife department team, along with police personnel, has also been deployed in the area.
With an aim to help patients with chronic Inflammatory bowel disease manage the disease effectively, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research launched IBD cards on Thursday, globally celebrated as World IBD Day. IBD, an ongoing illness caused by the inflammation of the intestines, has two main types: ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. The IBD card has been designed by PGIMER's gastroenterology department, in association with Colitis and Crohn's Foundation, India.