Project Environment Channel, a service that visualizes the air quality data in very creative way, wins Vaisala’s challenge aiming to reduce the air pollution through intelligent use of environmental observation data. Vaisala is one of the partners of the World Challenge Finland 2018, an international innovation competition sponsored by the United Nations Office of Information and Communication Technology (UN OICT), together with the US and European space agencies (NASA and ESA).
“We joined the competition as a partner in order to encourage development of new tools for mitigation of ambient air pollution based on combining satellite observations, high-resolution in situ data from ground level measurement networks, and advanced air quality modeling,” says John Liljelund, the Head of Air Quality at Vaisala.
Environment Channel was formed by three students from the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences: Hai Truong, Tri Hoang and Minh Dao. They have collaborated with one of the competition organizers, Ultrahack, before and were excited to participate in the competition this year.
Solution on Visualizing Air Pollution Data
“We found the competition very interesting, and wanted to take some time deciding on which challenge we wanted to solve. Vaisala’s challenge on reducing air pollution provided us with a great opportunity to find a solution on how to both visualize as well as analyze the data,” says the team. “We wanted to have a very concrete problem to solve. We decided to create our own platform for this to ensure it is easy to use for everyone. Our focus has definitely been on user experience – we have had a few test users to get important feedback at this stage.”
Vaisala was one of the partners for the first time this year. Heikki Turtiainen, Senior Scientist at the Technology & Research team in Vaisala’s Weather and Environment business area, acted as the mentor for the teams working on Vaisala’s challenge and found the collaboration very fruitful for all the participants.
“The variety of applications is extremely wide, and the competing teams are able to find new ways to utilize satellite data as well as other data sources available to them. The mentors work with the finalist project teams over a few days prior the final, and we could see the participants making great strides in developing their applications further. What is also valuable from our view is to potentially find new ways to utilize different data sources ourselves as well,” says Turtiainen.
Brilliant Solutions to Tackle the Effects of Climate Change
“World Challenge Finland is an innovation competition where the participants are able to utilize certain data sources and resources already available. The competition judges evaluated, for example, the potential of the idea – how to take the idea to a practical level,” explains Mikko Järvilehto, CEO of Ultrahack, one of the competition organizers. “There were 12 finalist teams and 13 projects, and team members came from Finland, German, US, Italy and UK. This is the second year the competition takes place in Finland.”
The World Challenge Finland 2018 proved that new brilliant solutions can be created to tackle the effects of climate change and the other big challenges of the world. The idea of the competition was to develop services supporting sustainable development using satellite data. At the same time, Finland was given the opportunity to make its space expertise visible and to attract foreign companies and students to Finland.
The main prize was awarded to project Wildfire Aware that utilizes data from various sources and provides machine-learning-based forecasts about wildfires and thus prevents and minimizes the damages caused by fires. The service is a result of the long-term development work of a team of mathematics and computer science students from the University of York, UK.