IBM brings Green Horizons to Delhi clean air project

13 January 2016 4 min. read
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Delhi like many other mega cities is gassing itself with the exhaust from its own activities. In a bid to reduce the level of pollution in the city, lawmakers have reached out to IBM. The IT consultancy will implement its Green Horizons initiative in the city, mixing a wide range of monitoring devices with cognitive analytics programmes, with as a result a means for decision makers to make informed decisions about ways of curbing the city’s smog blight.

City pollution has been making global headlines in recent months. Beijing, for instance, has gone multiple times over the 2.5 fine particle safe limit – causing the city to shut down. While the Chinese capital has been publically suffering, India’s capital too has found itself in dire straight with regards to pollution levels. Particularly in winter, the city has a high frequency of days in which it finds itself under a blanket of smog, multiple times above the particle safe limits. Smog-episode peaks measured in Delhi have hit eight to ten times the standard.

The issues for the city are complex however, with 18 million inhabitants living in a geography whose landlocked weather patterns, coupled with its rapid economic and social development, have resulted in the creation of a toxic blanket of smog. Every day, Delhi adds an additional 1,400 vehicles to its roads as the middle class seeks to enjoy middle class benefits. The efforts to curb pollution that have been enacted in the early 2000s are collapsing as a result, and India’s high court recently described Delhi as a ‘gas chamber’ and enacted new laws to limit high polluters from the city’s roads. Other measures, seen by some as unenforceable, include allowing only odd or even number plates on the roads on given days. Across the country as a whole, more than 600,000 premature deaths each year are attributed to air pollution.

Delhi city pollution

In a bid to identify the scope of the issue across the various parts of the city, the Delhi Dialogue Commission has hired IT consulting firm IBM to deploy its Green Horizon initiative to identify ways in which city planners can make substantial changes to the level of air pollution in Delhi.

Green Horizons
IBM’s Green Horizons leverages a wide range of experts and technologies to help cities and state manage their air pollution, among others. The initiative leverages accrued information from a wide range of monitored channels that are impute into a cognitive computing system that creates real-time and predictive models of future pollution events. The system, from “traffic flow, weather forecasting, air pollution and economic data” creates models “to help officials explore various ‘what if’ scenarios and better understand the consequences of certain actions, such as optimising or changing traffic flows, relocating industry, switching to renewables and even introducing more green areas into the city.”

In Delhi, IBM will leverage its Green Horizon initiative to provide the city with a means of making informed decisions about the construction and location of future industry, power generation facilities and roads. IBM will help the city install monitoring stations, with information gathered analysed through a variety of analytic techniques for insights that can provide policy makers with material for decisions that will reduce the pollution issues in the long term. This will allow the city to improve its air quality and better protect the health of its citizens.

Delhi Dialogue Commission hires IBM Green Horizon

The partnership with IBM is part of the government’s clean air action plan, Ashish Khetan, Vice-Chairman of the Delhi Dialogue Commission, explains. “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 optimise 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,” says Khetan.

“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,” adds Ramesh Gopinath, Vice-President & CTO of IBM Research India. “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.”

IBM is not the only consulting firm invested in clean air. In a wide-scale UK project, CBRE partnered with the AirSensa project to launch an air quality monitoring network in London.