Radar to tackle pollution, drone to put out fires: Two students from UAE recognised for sustainability ideas

Apps that are being worked on can scan plastic components and enhance firefighting capabilities


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Sun 18 Jun 2023, 4:20 PM

Two students from UAE schools have developed mobile applications that empower individuals to make informed decisions, effectively combat plastic pollution, and address concerns associated with the global water crisis.

Sinchana Hiremath’s Microbeads Radar App which is in the process of development aims to raise awareness of the detrimental effect of micro-beads pollution on marine life. This will be done by detecting plastic components on labels of commercially available cosmetic and hygiene products.

This will be done by scanning the product ingredients and identifying the presence of microplastics.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Hiremath says, “My project aims to reduce plastic disposal water bodies, and is also meant to raise awareness on the daily contribution of micro-beads to plastic pollution.

This is one of the biggest problems that we are facing today. Tiny plastic materials found in cosmetic and personal care pass unfiltered by the water treatment plants.”

“Upon entering the ocean these micro-beads are eaten by fish. So far, these things have been found in human tissues and even in breast milk. That’s why I wanted to make people aware of this crisis. I have come up with an app that can scan the ingredients of a product and tell if the product contains micro-plastics or not. Therefore, people can become self-conscious and aware and continue to spread the message,” the student of GEMS Our Own English High School, Dubai adds.

Hiremath, who took home the first place in the Senior Category of the RE-NEW Our World Challenge, will go on to represent the UAE at the prestigious Stockholm Junior Water Prize international competition, with the finals scheduled to be held in Stockholm, Sweden, in August this year.

“The competition was open to students aged between 8 and 18 in schools across the UAE, and saw participants split into three age categories. Our work was judged based on several criteria, including relevance, potential, impact, feasibility, innovation, and sustainability,” she adds.

The overall winner will receive a grand prize of $15,000 (Dh5,509.35) and a trophy presented by the prize’s patron, HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden.

Similarly, thirteen-year-old Aliya Nujum Navaz won the challenge’s mid-age (12-14) category.

Aliya’s cutting-edge solution, named Aqua Fire Flyze, uses drone technology to pinpoint hotspots that should be prioritized, improving firefighting performance. It also serves as an alternative to traditional techniques that require and consume large amounts of water.

Aliya says, “My motivation behind this project is a real fire incident. The fire broke out at the Address Hotel in the year 2016. After 15 minutes of the fire, the water in the sprinklers got over. This incident stuck to my mind. I wanted to create something that would identify such incidents. When Emirates Environmental Group (EEG) gave us this opportunity to make something that would help conserve water, I thought this would be a good idea. It’s still in the ideating phase though. To implement this, we would have to go to the Civil Service and propose the idea.”

The teenager reiterates that integrating drones into fire response systems to enhance firefighting capabilities could be a valuable addition to existing firefighting strategies.

“Every household has a fire system and when a fire is alerted it goes directly to the civil service and sends the fire trucks and firefighters. The idea is that while they are sending the firefighters, they also send the drones. Firefighters may get stuck in traffic and be delayed but the drones can fly. These drones will come close to the building, sense where the fire is most intense, and would then aim at the affected area and shoot water. It could be water, or it might have payloads that can extinguish the fire in the area. It can be any of the extinguishing substances. Additionally, it mitigates the physical risks faced by firefighters, providing them with information updates such as fire status and real-time location,” says the student at Al Ain Juniors School, Abu Dhabi.

Shedding light on the initiative that was hosted by the Water Alliance in partnership with the Emirates Environmental Group and how it brings market technology closer to sustainability goals, Edurne Gil de San Vicente, Program Director at Water Alliance says, “The RE-NEW Our World Challenge has proven to be an invaluable platform for discovering, exploring, and showcasing the ideas that will have a real impact on the lives of all citizens globally. We are exceptionally proud of all the young people who participated and submitted their ideas. Only by working together and nurturing innovation that we can make a difference.”


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