Published: 14th June 2019
This project by IIT Madras students will tell you the air quality of the roads you drive on
Team Kaatru is now planning to develop a Google Maps-like app that will even tell you which lane is the least polluted
It's a regular day and you're driving through an unknown area. But that isn't much trouble, hail Google Maps. You know that you'll reach your destination through the fastest route. But what if the map also tells you how polluted the lane that you're about to take is? This would definitely be a blessing if you're someone who suffers from diseases like asthma or bronchitis or if you're travelling with a child. Even for the others, a literal breath of fresh air would cause no harm.
Sounds utopic? Not really. This app will soon be launched, thanks to a group of IIT Madras students. Named Kaatru, which translates to air in Tamil, the app's team measures air pollution using a mobile and modular measurement device in consort. Here's how it works. Multiple measurement devices are placed on vehicles that travel in a particular area, that accurately records the data on air quality, which is used to derive insights using machine learning algorithms. The data can also be used to predict weather outcomes.
"We always wanted to work on a project, that will benefit asthma patients. Depleting air quality is an alarming problem, so we decided to club it together and develop our project," says Sathish Swaminathan, a PhD scholar, who is part of team Kaatru. The team consists of four other members — Pooja Kumar, Sumeer Subramani, Aroop G and Niyas. The team is mentored by Dr Raghunathan Rengaswamy, an IIT Madras professor and Dr Sriram Krishnan, Director, National Grid, USA.
At present, the team is working with Translational Health Science and Technology Institute, Faridabad to measure the air quality in Gurgaon and to understand it’s implication on pregnancy and child mortality. They also have a pilot project running in some parts of Chennai. "A monitoring device is currently installed on a vehicle that runs along Chennai's Ambattur. We are planning to install more devices on autorickshaws. This will help us get a more accurate reading since they travel through narrow lanes too," says Sathish.