Vishwa, a student at American High School in Fremont, California, created Air Variance Authority (AVA), an app that uses photos to assist measure air quality.
Vishwa Iyer developed a love for nature and a passion for the environment after witnessing the natural beauty of different places as a youngster. But it was knowing how many people in India died as a result of air pollution that inspired him to take action.
Vishwa, a student at American High School in Fremont, California, created Air Variance Authority (AVA), an app that uses photos to assist measure air quality. It was first released earlier this year and is now available in the Google PlayStore as a browser extension and as an Android app.
“Struck by the severity of India’s air pollution crisis, I knew I had to do something to help. Most people in the world don’t have access to air quality sensors, and are often oblivious to air pollution around them. In India alone, air pollution kills more than 1.7 million people every year . With AVA, I hope to allow users to simply take a photo of their surroundings. I designed a 16 layer convolutional neural network that goes through the photo and predicts the AQI in the photo in seconds. I also collaborated with local governments to provide health guidance based on the AQI detected in the photo.” reads his website blog.
Many people in India and across the world use the hashtag #smogselfies to shoot and publish images of the polluted skies on Instagram and Twitter. He utilised these photographs and noted the AQI on the day they were taken. He also used photos taken by him and his friends, as well as images he obtained on Google.
He says, “I manually labelled over 200 photographs and established a database of photos that were linked to AQI values.”
AVA is powered by two models: one is a 16-layer convolutional neural network trained on the aforementioned dataset and deployed on Google Cloud. The model can estimate which AQI bucket a photo will fall into when it is submitted.
Vishwa has teamed with a number of local charities, including the Chopra Foundation, which is assisting him with the deployment of AVA. He’s also working with panchayats and local governments to improve the public health recommendations.
For photos with AQIs exceeding 300, for example, the public health advice reads: Your surroundings are now very polluted, according to our AI. The AQI in your snapshot appears to be greater than 300. Health alerts of emergency situations are triggered when the AQI exceeds 300.