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Delhi Looks To Get Clean Air The Smart Way

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Pollution is choking Delhi, the fifth largest megacity in the world. The city has been grasping around for the right solution for a while to get a breath of fresh air into its lungs. Finally, the solution might be at hand, as the Delhi Dialogue Commission is looking at Internet of Things, collaborative and cognitive computing and smart devices to create an ecosystem that will enable cleaner air for Delhi.

Delhi Dialogue Commission has roped in IBM to use the company’s global Green Horizons initiative to get insights and recommended actions to improve air quality and better protect the health of Delhi’s citizens. “Tackling air pollution is a major priority of the Delhi government in order to safeguard the health of our citizens and ensure an attractive environment for people and businesses alike. For us to optimize our action plan, we need accurate, real-time insight about the situation on the ground and a better understanding of how to respond in the most effective and sustainable way,” said Ashish Khetan, Vice Chairman, Delhi Dialogue Commission.

So the collaboration with IBM; where the company will draw on its global research innovations for air quality management systems to cities around the world, to provide greater insight about the complex and dynamic nature of air pollution in the city. “Working with IBM, we will leverage the combined power of cognitive computing and Internet of Things to undertake a first-of-its-kind study of Delhi’s air quality. IBM will help identify sustainable methods for improving the outlook in the short and long term,” added Khetan. One of the focus areas of the study will be how Delhi’s 7.4 million vehicles contribute to air pollution in the city which is especially important with the number of vehicles in the city growing by over 1,200 each day.

“Air pollution is a global challenge and one of the top environmental risks to human health. The Delhi government is taking bold and futuristic steps to transform the city’s air quality and we are committed to help them with our most advanced technologies and best talent from around the world,” said Dr. Ramesh Gopinath, Vice President & CTO, IBM Research, India.

So how does the Green Horizon initiative improve Delhi’s air quality? At the heart of the initiative are air quality management systems which draw on vast amounts of environmental Big Data generated by thousands of sensors in environmental monitoring stations, traffic systems and meteorological satellites. Then the cognitive technologies understand this data, and use it to tune a predictive model. These show where the pollution is coming from, where it will likely go, and what will be its potential effect, allowing more informed decisions about how to improve air quality.

“Our India research team is helping to create a powerful decision support system with unprecedented accuracy. This will not only advance understanding of today’s issues, but provide actionable insight for addressing them while also protecting economic activity and livelihoods,” added Gopinath.

Meanwhile, to ensure that accurate data is generated at all times, IBM’s Machine learning technologies ensure that the Green Horizon system constantly self-configures, improving in accuracy and automatically adjusting the predictive models to different seasons and topographies. “It blends various predictive models including traffic flow, weather forecasting, air pollution and economic data to help officials explore various ‘what if’ scenarios and better understand the consequences of certain actions, such as optimizing or changing traffic flows, relocating industry, switching to renewables and even introducing more green areas into the city,” explained Gopinath.

So once the Green Horizons system is in place in Delhi, the technologies will work together feeding from the experience of other cities around the world to develop an intelligent pollution forecasting and scenario modelling capabilities. These in turn will help the Delhi government make informed decisions about the construction and location of future industry, power generation facilities and roads, as well as healthy habitations.

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