Delhi students craft app to gauge air quality by snapping a photo with your phone

22nd October 2019
Delhi  students  craft app to  gauge air quality by snapping a photo  with your phone
TheDelhi student team behind the VisionAir app

New Delhi, October 22, 2019:  Against a background of alarming  -- and seasonal --degradation of the air quality in India's national capital, the US-based  Marconi Society, has  recognized the work of a local student team  which has crafted a useful   tool  to address air pollution.
It has awarded them the second prize in the annual  Celestini Prize that recognizes  student  innovation that addresses local challenges.

The team from Bharti Vidyapeeth College of Engineering, Delhi -- Harshita Diddee, Shivam Grover, Shivani Jindal and Divyanshu Sharma -- created a privacy-aware smartphone application called VisionAir which uses photos of the horizon taken from a smartphone to estimate  air quality. This builds on the work done by last year's Celestini Prize winners which showed that a machine learning model can be built to estimate air quality from an image by extracting image features such as transmission index or haziness and combining them with meteorological data and historical air quality data. The innovative aspect of this year’s application is to leverage federated learning to train the machine learning model in a privacy-aware manner instead of uploading photos from each user as shown in this tutorial. Federated learning only uploads the features extracted from the images without uploading the smartphone images to train the machine learning model.
The VisionAir team also enables other developers to create new machine learning models by open-sourcing a diverse set of smartphone images taken across several locations in Delhi, from different phones with ground truth air quality data from Central Pollution Control Board monitors and Airveda sensors. 
The Programme, run by the Society's Young Scholars,  is a flagship effort to  inspire and connect individuals building tomorrow’s technologies in service of a digitally inclusive world. The Marconi Society and its Young Scholars select universities with promising telecommunications and engineering undergrads and provide them with support and mentorship to help tap their students’ true potential.
“This is the third successful year of the Celestini Programme in India,” said Vint Cerf, Internet pioneer and  Chairman  of the Marconi Society.  “We see a clear trend of Celestini Program participants choosing research careers and technology-oriented graduate programs, which helps us fulfill our mission of inspiring the bright minds that will bring the benefits of connectivity to the next billion.”
The  team receives a cash prize of  $500.The Celestini Program India partners with IIT Delhi and is anchored by Dr Aakanksha Chowdhery, a researcher in Google Brain, and a 2012 Marconi Young Scholar. The prize was given away yesterday at an event  yesterday in IIT Delhi by Padmasree Warrior, IIT Delhi alumnus and former CTO of Motorola and Cisco Systems
Link to VisionAir Android App here