IBM Brings Green Horizons to India with Delhi Clean Air Project

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The FINANCIAL — IBM on December 11 announced  an agreement with the Delhi Dialogue Commission to apply advanced technologies to support the Government of Delhi’s clean air action plan.

The collaboration will leverage Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning combined with the analytical power of cognitive computing and statistical modeling to provide the Commission with insights and recommended actions to improve air quality and better protect the health of Delhi’s citizens, according to IBM.

The combined forces of urbanization and industrialization are creating air quality challenges for high-growth cities around the world. Delhi, with a population of almost 18 million, is the world’s fifth largest ‘megacity’.  Its landscape, landlocked location, weather patterns, rising energy needs, commercial activity and rapidly growing traffic all contribute to high concentrations of air pollutants in the city, including ultrafine particulate matter particles – the most harmful to human health.

Building on IBM’s global Green Horizons initiative, which draws on research innovations to provide air quality management systems to cities around the world, the partnership with the Delhi Dialogue Commission will provide greater insight about the complex and dynamic nature of air pollution in the city and help identify sustainable methods for improving the outlook in the short and long term. 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.

“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. 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,” said Mr. Ashish Khetan, Vice Chairman, Delhi Dialogue Commission.

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IBM’s Green Horizons initiative draws on innovations from the company’s global network of research labs with contributions from leading environmental experts. 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. Cognitive technologies understand this data, and use it to tune a predictive model that shows 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.

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. Feeding on the experience of other cities around the world, Green Horizons’ pollution forecasting and scenario modelling capabilities can also help city governments make informed decisions about the construction and location of future industry, power generation facilities and roads.

“Air pollution is a global challenge and one of the top environmental risks to human health. 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. 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.

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