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