Fighting fire with math and maps

1. Sustainability Problem: Forest fires in California have increased in frequency and magnitude. This is causing increased loss of human life and property. After the forest fires subside, Forest Department prunes/ cuts down trees in uniform manner, similar to farming, to avoid future fires. However, this results in artificial spacial patterns among trees thereby increasing chances of disease, fire and loss of biodiversity. It is important to mimic natural forest patterns, to avoid these issues and to enable forests to survive on their natural resilience. However, there is no easily available technology for this.

Category: Safety & Health, Waste

2. Technology: QuickMap – A forestry app

https://blog.nature.org/science/2016/08/03/technology-to-the-rescue-for-foresters-in-the-thick-of-it/

  • University of Washington has developed an app called QuickMap which uses statistics and GIS data to randomize tree patterns, to closely mimic nature, based on which foresters can prune trees, to avoid future fires.
  • An experienced 2 person team can mark 10-20 acres of land per day, which is quick.
  • It will take time for tree removal and for the forest to take over the job – growing, seeding new areas, and dying back from others – but this approach gives the forest a head start at creating healthier, more resilient conditions.

3. Organizational Stakeholders: Forest Department, Policy makers, Academic institutions

4. Next steps for deployment:

  • Train forest staff in use of the app and GIS.
  • Create synergistic partnerships between academic institutions in the country, to increase availability of GIS data and to adapt it to other forest types
  • Create policy to ensure this app is used in all forests in the country

5. Comment on another article: IceEnergy
https://makeasmartcity.com/2017/10/19/iceenergy-cool-battery-storage/comment-page-1/#comment-1240

Comment: Ice banks have traditionally been used in the dairy industry, to avoid peak demand. Recently few building complexes have started installing icebanks.

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Can crows be trained for cleaning using technology?

In this piece, they are attempting to train crows in the Netherlands to pick up cigarette filters from the streets in order to keep them clean. However, if successful, it could potentially be applied to any other material, like plastic bags and so on.

Sustainability Problem:

Cleanliness on streets and segregating it for re purposing. With growing cities and population sizes, its an issue being faced by almost every large city in the world today.

In the Netherlands alone, over 6 Billion cigarette filters are thrown around the country. Cigarette filters are made up majorly of fibers which clog sewage systems and do not easily decompose.

Technology:

Inspired by a TED talk which demonstrated how crows can be trained to connect coins in exchange for food, they decided to apply this principle to clean up cigarette filters. The founders of ‘Crowded Cities’ based in the Netherlands have designed a product called the Crowbar, which essentially delivers some food to a crow once it drops a cigarette filters which is verified by a computerised source with a camera.

crows-cigarette-butts-4.png

 

  1. First the crows pick it up and drop it in the funnel shaped container below.
  2. The item is recognised with a camera and if its a cigarette filter, the device spits out crow food.
  3. It is their hope that the crow shares his/her experience with others and feed themselves by word of mouth.

 

 

Stakeholders:

  • Founders of the company
  • Department of Sanitation, or its equivalent
  • City Government
  • Recycling centres
  • Cigarrete smokers
  • Crows

Implementation:

crows-cigarette-butts-2.jpg

  • Although they are yet to put out the product ‘Crowbar’ in the field, they are current testing out their design and optimising it.
  • Building partnerships with the city and recycling centres would be valuable once the device is placed on ground.

As I mentioned earlier, this is an innovative application that can be useful for a variety of items beyond cigarette filters. It is utilising the learning capabilities of crows within a simple reward system and suitable technology.

Sources:

https://newatlas.com/crows-cigarette-butts/51683/

http://www.crowdedcities.com/

 

 

Comment on another post: https://makeasmartcity.com/2017/10/18/improving-resiliency-of-concrete-structures-with-recycled-tires/comment-page-1/#comment-1220

Can LG Outperform OG Mosquito Repellents?

The Problem

Category: Health

In urban Indian regions, mosquitoes pose a significant health concern as they carry diseases such as dengue fever, chikungunya virus, and malaria.  People are seeking alternatives to using foul odored, toxic bug sprays.

The Tech

The multinational tech conglomerate LG has developed the “LG K7i: Mosquito Away” smartphone.

LG claims its new phone emits a noiseless, odorless ultrasonic sound wave that repels mosquitoes.  The tech has also appeared in other LG products, such as LG’s air conditioners.

While LG boasts that testing of the ultra sound repellent was successful 72% of the time, there are significant doubts as to the effectiveness of the technology.

Article Title: LG is releasing a mosquito-repellent phone, but it probably won’t work
Website: Ars Technica
Link: https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2017/09/lg-is-releasing-a-mosquito-repellent-phone-but-it-probably-wont-work/

The Stakeholders Using The Tech

LG K7i users
People physically near LG K7i users
LG – testing/selling/monitoring use
Smartphone sale/repair shops

The First Three Steps

Despite the product already being in the market, there is still work to do as there are a lot of critics questioning the effectiveness of the mosquito repellent feature.  LG should: 1) conduct more repellent tests, 2) tweak the ultrasound tech to improve the repellent’s success rate, and 3) publish the results (assuming they’re positive) to instill greater confidence in the repellent.

 

UNI: gm2778


Comment on Smart Recycling Bin

“Neat idea, but I’m curious about actual adoption as trash receptacles are probably already produced really cost efficiently. I’m assuming cameras and lights triple the cost. Perhaps sanitation (or whichever dept. this falls under) could offer subsidies, or rewards to owners if the smart bin improves accurate recycling by an agreed upon percentage.”

CO2 Inhaling Plants

Area of sustainability: Pollution and health

Sustainability issue:

Pollution from cars, trucks, ships et.c. is an ever-increasing problem, and heavily localized pollution is a health hazard for the population.

Technology:

  • A number of startup companies has designed a solution that will help with this issue. It is based on building plants that will suck in the polluted air, and convert the CO2 to usable products, such as diesel fuel. This way, the pollution will be recycled and reused instead of being released into the atmosphere where it can harm the environment.
  • This will also be beneficial in big cities like Shanghai where air pollution is a huge health hazard, and people are advised to stay indoors when it is at peak levels. This should not be necessary, and this technology can help aid this.
  • This technology will reduce the effect of CO2 emissions from cars, ships, plants, farm equipment et.c. and in turn roll back the atmospheric concentrations of CO2 by directly capturing CO2 from the air.

Stakeholders:

  • Government
  • Plant facility management
  • Construction companies
  • Engineers
  • Maintenance companies

 

Implementation:

  1. Find the areas in a city where a plant like this would have the greatest effect
  2. Get permission from the government to build one of these plants near the city
  3. Make sure all procedures in the plant are well thought out, and that the processes will go safely

 

Main article: https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/jul/14/carbon-direct-air-capture-startups-tech-climate

Other sources: http://www.healthandsafetyinshanghai.com/shanghai-air-quality.html

UNI: ms5584

My comment on another article:

https://makeasmartcity.com/2017/10/12/using-drones-to-monitor-air-pollution/#respond

“This will enable testing the air quality in areas that are not usually easily accessible. It is also a cost efficient way to analyze the air quality, so that more of the available funds can be spent on the research and development of solutions which will help improve the air and thus also the health of the population.”

PaySecure Technology to tackle Food Insecurity

Sustainability Problem: Food deserts

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food deserts as communities where a minimum of one-third of the population lives at least one mile away from a supermarket in an urban area or ten miles away in rural areas. Based on several reports, some 37million people or over 10% of US population live in food deserts – typically a low income neighborhood that lack access to nutritious food like fresh fruits and vegetables.

About the technology: PaySecure 

  • The links between food insecurity, hunger, and public health have prompted a variety of policy solutions. From small-scale farming to urban community gardens or the USDA Double Bucks program at farmer’s markets, which doubles the worth of every EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) dollar spent at the farm stand to financing new grocery stores in food deserts.
  • In rural communities with smaller populations, economics does not support a grocery store every 10 miles. Similarly, no access to private cars and limited public transport makes it difficult to visit farmers market. Some elderly and disabled customers cannot navigate farmers markets or even grocery store aisles.
  • Till recently EBT cards could only be used at physical grocery stores as recipients had to enter a personal identification number to verify their identity. Last year USDA partnered with a company called Acculynk, which develops a software for an online PIN-pad, a technology that protects users’ identity when shopping online. They further mandated a few food retailers to accept EBT card payment on their online ordering sites
  • Though this is not a foolproof solution to tackle food insecurity as residents in many rural areas may run up against a lack of high speed internet access, it creates convenience and scale of reaching a wider population by moving away from brick and mortar grocery stores.

Stakeholders: 

Government Agencies (USDA), Food Retailers offering online service and free delivery, Technology Companies that can offer PaySecure Technology and Residents living in food deserts

Deployment:

  • Engage with and mandate several food retailers to accept EBT card payment.
  • Improve internet connectively in specific rural areas of offer a centralized wifi hotspot with high speed interest access.
  • Train and educate residents to order fresh food online
  • Engage and encourage couple of unemployed residents in such neighborhood to register themselves with food retailers, who can employ them for delivery service. This to an extent will also tackle the unemployment issue faced in food deserts.

Source: 

Comment on other post:

https://makeasmartcity.com/2017/10/11/browser-extension-technology-used-for-flagging-sustainability-issues/

Mobility for Disability

Sustainability Problem:

There exists a need for artificial muscles that are silent, soft, and compliant, with performance characteristics similar to those of skeletal muscle, enabling people to overcome their disabilities. Different types of electric motors or pneumatic systems drive exoskeletons, prosthetic and assistive devices to enhance human performance or aid disabled people to walk and carry out everyday tasks. They provide fast responses but are bulky, heavy, stiff, noisy, non-biological in feeling, and as such less accepted by the end user.

Technology:

  • Textile processing permits scalable and rational production of wearable artificial muscles, and enables novel ways to design assistive devices.
  • Swedish researchers have created actuators (An actuatoris a type of motor that is responsible for moving or controlling a mechanism or system)— from cellulose yarn coated with a polymer that reacts to electricity. These fibers are then woven and knitted using standard industrial machines and coated with conducting polymers using a metal-free deposition. The researchers have called these textile actuators, “textuators”.
  • These textuators scale up force by parallel assembly of single fibers (Fig A), amplify the strain by using stretchable patterns ( B), and can be effectively mass fabricated. This will allow for a new means of driving and designing assistive devices, such as exoskeleton-like suits with integrated wearable actuators.

F1.large

Stakeholders:

Hospitals, NGOs caring for disabled people, People with temporary or permanent disabilities, Elderly people, Prosthetic industry, Physiotherapists, People recovering from injuries etc.

Implementation:

Knitting and weaving artificial muscles could help create soft exoskeletons that people with disabilities could wear under their clothes to help them walk. By varying the processing method and the weaving pattern, it should be possible to tailor the force and strain characteristics of a textuator to the specific application at hand.

Article:

https://www.livescience.com/57631-smart-exosuit-fabric-could-boost-mobility.html

http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/1/e1600327.full

 

Comments on other blogs

“Smartscooter & Smart Energy Network”

“A good concept, but it could also focus on allowing more than a single ridership. Use of shared resources in nations would lesser the vehicular traffic on roads.”

“Longer Lasting Produce!”

How does it reduce disease? Can this technology be also used to store grains?

Will Drones End Society’s Range Anxiety?

 

The Problem

Category: Energy/Health

An electric vehicle owner in a rural area often fears that his car battery will die before he reaches an electric charging station.  Even urban EV owners fear their batteries will deplete in a major traffic jam.  Stationary charging stations are often expensive to implement and particularly inefficient in rural areas.

 The Tech

Amazon has been granted a patent for a roving drone that can attach to cars and infuse energy.  The article suggests that the car battery could be recharged by the drone either when the car is idle or when it’s in motion.

The roving drone may be manually requested by drivers with low car battery via Alexa, which is already being installed in some Ford models.  Alternatively, the roving drone may be dispatched automatically if a driver is signed up with Amazon Prime or another subscription service.

Furthermore, this patent may open the door for other Amazon deliveries to mobile individuals.

Amazon_EV_Drone_Pic_10.10.17

Article Title: New Amazon Drones Will Charge Your Car While You Drive
Website: Green Tech Media
Link: https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/amazon-ev-drone-charging-while-you-drive

 The Stakeholders Using The Tech

EV owners who subscribe to the service.

All automotive, train, airplane drivers and passengers who share the land/airspace with drones.

Amazon drone dispatchers/analysts.

Government/airspace regulators.

Street/highway patrols in case of accidents.

Highway maintenance crews in case of drone failures.

The First Three Steps

  1. Amazon needs to create a prototype that is light weight (current estimates say these drones will be 1,000lbs) and energy efficient themselves.
  2. Amazon needs to test its proof of concept to confirm that the roving drone can latch onto a moving vehicle under various weather/geographical conditions.
  3. Amazon needs to drum up support to pass legislation that allows Amazon to conduct a small live test.

UNI: gm2778


Comment on The Car as an Ambient Sensing Platform

“Perhaps these car sensors will determine if you’re driving near a notoriously bad driver so that you can be on high alert as you’re passing them or they’re passing you. Perhaps sensors will determine that a nearby driver always brakes late, thus your car warns you to maintain X distance behind. Perhaps sensors will lead to every driver having a visible driving rating that you can see in your windshield. Seems like the possibilities are endless.”