Forage Tracking

traces2crop

Sustainability Problem:

Waste management is an area that is underdeveloped in many developing countries.  Centralized, government run systems are often inadequate, and initiatives such as recycling usually do not have a formal system in place. Because of this fact, many informal trash and recycling cooperatives have organically formed, whose members seek to gain income from collecting recyclable materials in the city and selling it bulk to industry.  However, there still lacks coordination and a sense of trust between the different stakeholders.  Residents, businesses, and building managers believe these informal systems to be unreliable, which prevents it from being fully integrated into the waste management system of the city.  Moreover, the lack of coordination between recycling cooperatives present issues such as congestion and miscommunication, which can result in wasted trips and missed opportunities.

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Technology:

The Forage Tracking project addresses this issue by creating an integrated, cloud-based communication and mapping platform for informal recyclers.  A location-detecting system is used to analyze how the informal recyclers find and collect material – then the data is used to optimize routes and identify new partnerships and collaborations within the community.

The participatory platform helps to organize activities of the cooperatives, and connect them to the citizens or businesses that require their service.  This system increases the transparency and understanding of the service that the informal recyclers may provide to the system, fostering trust between community members.  Moreover, this platform helps to streamline documentation of the material flows to the local governments, which could be used for other applications, such as infrastructure planning.

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Technology stakeholders:

  • Informal waste and recycling cooperatives
  • Businesses
  • Residents
  • Government

Implementation:

  • Invite more informal recycling cooperatives to use the technology – as the more participants there are contributing to the web-based platform, the more representative the dataset will be
  • Educate and invite more residents, local businesses and building operators to use the system, to foster a greater demand for the service
  • Government to use the material flow data for future waste infrastructure planning, and integrate the system with the centralized waste management system

Sources:

http://senseable.mit.edu/foragetracking/

http://offenhuber.net/forage-tracking/

Exploring the world on a molecular level

Sustainability Problem:

There is often a large information gap on the food we eat, the pills we take, and even the quality of water that we drink.  This often leads to us not understanding the benefits of particular types of food, and consuming too much or too little of specific types.  In developing countries, or other places where access to a reliable water supply source is scarce, there is often a lack of knowledge on water quality from different sources, leading to people extracting contaminated water from rivers and other sources.

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Technology:

  • SCiO is a portable spectrometer that can instantly measure the molecular make up of everyday objects, such as food items, or water
  • The information gets sent to the cloud to be translated by algorithms, is aggregated into a larger database, and then the resulting data will show up on a smart phone that has the application installed
  • It uses crowdsourcing as a method of creating a larger, more robust dataset on molecular makeups of items – so the more people that use the SCiO, more complex information will become available to users

 

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Technology stakeholders:

  • Community members with access to mobile phones
  • Local governments
  • Scientific community
  • Industry
  • Academia

Implementation:

  • In places like the U.S., SCiO could be used in educational settings, to increase awareness and understanding of the environment around us, including the food we eat – to foster better nutritional health for school children
  • In developing country settings, development NGOs could work with the local governments and community leaders to get more members to participate in gathering data on molecular information about various objects, or water sources, and geo-tag them – this data could then be used to create a database (and a map) that identifies the quality of particular water sources
  • Crowd-sourced data to improve public awareness on nutritional content of foods, water, or other objects – because for example, once the molecular makeup of specific items, such as contaminated water with toxic waste is established on the database, anyone with the technology will be able to detect it

Sources:

http://inhabitat.com/worlds-first-pocket-molecular-sensor-measures-the-chemical-makeup-of-everything/

http://inhabitat.com/new-scio-sensor-app-lets-anyone-explore-their-world-on-a-molecular-level/

Water purifier to address e-waste pollution

 

Toxic water waste

Sustainability Problem:

  • Given the rise of electronic waste, toxic heavy metal pollution in our waters, such as mercury, cadmium and lead, becomes a growing concern. This problem is especially prominent in countries such as China and India, where factories are recovering e-waste from around the world and discharges the heavy metals and other chemicals into the local water bodies as part of the process, which poses a great challenge to provide safe and clean drinking water for the local communities.
  • There are current solutions that range from chlorination and high-tech filtration systems that could be utilized; however, the issue of high cost and the fact that the processes depends highly on fossil fuels still prevent large scale-implementation of the technologies

Technology:

  • A renewable heavy metal filter, built from graphene nanotubes, can be rinsed with a simple vinegar concentrate and be reused – then the highly concentrated waste can be evaporated, which leaves a deposit of pure metals that can be reused in many different applications
  • This process that could remove 99% of heavy metal from the water that passes through it
  • The filter could be fitted to taps in homes, as well as in industry, to replace existing, non-renewable filtration systems such as reverse osmosis

Technology stakeholders:

  • Homeowners
  • Industry
  • Schools, hospitals, other public services
  • Government

Implementation:

  • Because the technology is made open source and available for everyone, implementation and expansion of the technology could be achieved in various ways
  • Local governments in countries with water quality concerns could work with NGOs to implement the technology at a large scale, as part of a decentralized process of providing clean water to households
  • Industry could directly produce these new filters and replace their existing ones, which will cut costs in the long run

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/aug/27/texas-teenager-water-purifier-toxic-e-waste-pollution

http://www.worldwaterweek.org/american-student-wins-2015-stockholm-junior-water-prize-for-revolutionizing-method-to-remove-electronic-waste-from-water/

http://thegrownetwork.com/one-young-man-tackles-a-huge-global-problem/

Voices of Youth: Mapping Environmental Issues in Rio de Janerio

Sustainability Problem: There is often a lack of awareness and access to information regarding community risks in communities in developing countries.  Physical risks such as buildings or roads near collapse, open sewage, piles of garbage – as well as other issues related to sanitation, water and deteriorating infrastructure could pose great risks to community members, especially for children.  In the absence of real-time information, government agencies and public services will fail to provide the necessary response systems to address these key issues.

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Technology:

  • Open-source mapping platform that could be used by verified individuals (including youth members who have been trained to produce these geo-tagged reports) to create location specific reports using their personal mobile phones
  • The idea was to make the information collection process low-cost and easy, using methods/technology that are already being used by the communities themselves, such as mobile phones
  • Reports are uploaded on a web-based platform to visualize locations of community “hot spots”, which could be used to visualize risk, services, or even social spaces for the community members to meet

Link to interactive map: http://rio.unicef-gis.org/

Technology stakeholders:

  • Community members with access to mobile phones
  • Local government
  • MIT Mobile Experience Lab
  • UNICEF

Implementation:

  • Train more community members to participate in producing geo-tagged reports, to create a more comprehensive database of community risks
  • Government to use existing crowd-sourced data to improve public spaces and deteriorating infrastructure and develop necessary response systems

Sources:

http://www.unicefstories.org/2014/05/20/digital-mapping-technology-to-reduce-disaster-risks/

http://mobile.mit.edu/projects/youth-mapping-urban-risks/

http://instedd.org/our-work/projects/latin-america/

“Plastic to Fuel”

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Sustainability Problem: 

While we can’t live without it, plastic becomes an issue when it comes to waste management.  Especially in places with no proper infrastructure for waste management, plastic becomes a major challenge that comes with a multitude of negative environmental impacts.  Being largely developing and driven by the tourism industry, the island of Bali, Indonesia, is a clear example of a place that faces this issue.

Technology:  

The Plastic to Fuel project, started by a local start-up called Eco-Mantra, is a project that aims to develop a low-tech, low cost plastic pyrolysis technology that could convert plastic to diesel.  This technology not only deals with the issue of plastic waste, but also provides an alternative energy source using materials that are readily available.  Technologies such as these could potentially be a decentralized and market based solution to the larger waste management problem of the island and other places alike.

Technology stakeholders:

  • Residents
  • Community leaders
  • NGOs
  • Government

Implementation:

  • Educate residents and communities on the importance of recycling plastic, and proper waste management
  • Collaborate with other local businesses to spread the use of the technology
  • Potentially propose technology as a larger waste management solution for the island to the local government

Sources:

http://eco-mantra.com/plastic-to-fuel/

 

Life Sack: Not your usual container

Sustainability Problem: Lack of access to a clean supply of water and sanitation is still a major issue facing approximately 63 million people to this day, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).  Of this amount, most are concentrated in the Sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asian regions.  This issue increases the likelihood of transmitting water-borne diseases, which leads to a large number of infant deaths every year.  The Life Sack addresses Goal #6 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is to “ensure access to water and sanitation for all” by 2030, fostering better access to clean water sources.

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Technology: Life Sack is a water purification device in the form of a container that attaches as a backpack.  The idea of the sack is that it could serve as both method of transporting grains and other food staples, and then be used as a solar water purification kit once the food has been received.   Charities commonly donate grains and staples in sacks – so the Life Sack essentially serves a similar function, but has the additional function as a water purification kit.

The technology used to filter water is known as SODIS (Solar Water Disinfection Process), which uses UV-A radiation together with the built in thermal treatment process to kill bacteria and microorganisms found in water.

Technology stakeholders:

  • Local communities
  • Charities
  • Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
  • Local governments

Implementation:

  • Share technology with local communities in regions with poor access to clean water
  • Collaborate with charities and NGOs already working in the regions to scale-up the use of the technology

Sources:

http://inhabitat.com/life-sack-solves-drinking-water-issues-for-the-third-world/

http://borgenproject.org/the-life-sack-improved-water-globally/

http://www.tuvie.com/life-sack-is-not-your-ordinary-grain-sack/

Open-source Flood Map to Improve Resiliency

Technology: An open-source flood map to reduce risks and improve emergency response management.  The platform uses social media to collect real-time information regarding flooding for residents of Jakarta.

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Link to interactive map: https://petajakarta.org/banjir/en/

Problem: Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, is a mega-city located in a delta surrounded by a multitude of rivers and canals. Increased urbanization coupled with climate change has led to an increased rate of land subsidence and the city is physically sinking between 5 to 20 cm per year.  Intense flooding during the monsoon season has become a regular occurrence, and losses in the magnitude of billions of dollars was incurred in the most recent floods.  On top of the problem of poor infrastructure to manage these floods, there is the fundamental issue with absence of real-time information to notify residents of these flooding events.

Technology stakeholders:

  • Residents with access to smart phones and social media
  • SMART Infrastructure Facility
  • Local Emergency Response Team (Badan Penangulangan Bencana Daerah, BPBD DKI Jakarta)
  • Twitter Inc
  • com
  • Jakarta SmartCity
  • CogniCity http://cognicity.info/cognicity/

Implementation:

  • Encourage participation of residents in real-time reporting of flood-related issues, which will improve emergency response and community engagement
  • Visualize data in an interactive map that links the government’s formal information system and the informal information from social media
  • Build an “information ecosystem” to improve resiliency in flood situations

Sources:

http://umjakarta.tumblr.com/

https://info.petajakarta.org/2016/01/26/petajakarta-org-featured-in-the-guardian/

https://info.petajakarta.org/2015/08/03/dr-tomas-holderness-to-join-guardians-livechat-on-smart-cities/