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The University of Chicago Trust and IBM collaborate for water quality management in Maharashtra

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The University of Chicago, together with The University of Chicago Trust in India, is proud to announce a groundbreaking collaboration with IBM aimed at transforming water quality management in the state of Maharashtra, India. This initiative harnesses IBM’s expertise in data analytics, artificial intelligence, and hybrid cloud technologies to address the critical issue of water pollution.
IBM, in collaboration with The University of Chicago Trust in India, will spearhead efforts to aggregate fragmented water quality information, providing key government and nonprofit organizations with essential tools to democratize access to water quality data. The overarching goal is to enhance water resource management by offering contextual spatial data that illuminates potential sources of water pollution.
Maharashtra, with 55 polluted river stretches, has been identified as a state facing significant challenges in water quality, with the highest number of polluted stretches among all Indian states (out of a total of 311 stretches across 297 river networks in India).
“With nearly half of the global population vulnerable to significant environmental distress, new strategies to help create a sustainable future are essential,” said Justina Nixon-Saintil, IBM Vice President & Chief Impact Officer. “This means scaling solutions to help people immediately, while also cultivating a pipeline of future leaders at the intersection of technology and sustainability across industries.”
The collaboration is part of the IBM Sustainability Accelerator, a pro bono social impact program designed to leverage IBM technologies, including hybrid cloud and artificial intelligence. The program taps into an ecosystem of experts to amplify and scale initiatives led by nonprofit and government organizations. The focus is on assisting populations vulnerable to environmental threats, such as climate change, extreme weather, and pollution.
The program will elevate the University’s state-of-the-art methodology for measuring water quality using remote sensors, which utilizes small, portable remote sensors placed directly in the water body, continuously collecting and uploading data to the cloud, to provide real-time monitoring. This approach stands in stark contrast to the traditional method of ‘grab sampling,’ where water is collected from a specific location at a particular time and sent to a lab for analysis.’.
What sets this initiative apart is not just the methodology of measurement but the emphasis on making complex information accessible. The collected data, while technically comprehensive, is translated into a user-friendly, pictorial format developed by researchers at the University of Chicago. This transformative step ensures that a diverse range of stakeholders, including researchers, farmers, and local communities, can easily comprehend and utilize the valuable information.
Leni Chaudhuri, Executive Director, University of Chicago Trust, expressed her enthusiasm about the partnership, saying, “The University of Chicago Trust is firmly and actively committed to scholarship in environmental science, public policy, and creating positive impacts on society. This collaboration with IBM adds significant strength to our endeavors in these areas.”
Supratik Guha, Professor at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, highlighted the transformative potential of the collaboration, says, “The anticipated impact of large-scale data curation and artificial intelligence upon climate and environmental science is significant. IBM has world-class efforts and leadership in this area. The University of Chicago Trust has been actively involved in the geospatial analysis of water quality in rivers across India with this collaboration further developing and positioning the science towards tangible societal impact in India and beyond.”
This collaboration represents a convergence of cutting-edge technology and academic rigor, aligning with the University of Chicago’s commitment to advancing knowledge and addressing pressing global challenges.

 

 

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