‘Next generation’ technologies present new, advanced ways to tackle waste and pollution challenges, experts say.
Speaking ahead of the upcoming Pollution and Waste Technology Africa conference, experts say that 4thIndustrial Revolution technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT) can significantly improve monitoring and control of pollution and waste.
IBM scientist Tapiwa Chiwewe leads research on IBM’s Green Horizons air quality initiative in South Africa. This harnesses data from a range of sources and applies IBM computing and analytics to measure air quality and even forecast levels and types of air pollution in future.
“In South Africa, national, provincial and local governments are committed to combating air pollution, and we have legislation and air quality monitoring stations in place in major metros,” Chiwewe says.
“This puts South Africa ahead of many other African countries,” he adds. “However, resources are always a challenge, and there are not enough air quality monitoring stations. It is an important issue, since air pollution is a causal factor in a range of diseases, which could kill up to 700,000 people per annum.”
Chiwewe’s work harnesses next generation technology to support in-situ monitoring stations, extending the reach and impact of measures to measure and forecast levels of pollution, including particulate matter and ozone in the air.
“Following a data driven approach, we are gathering a range of available data and applying data science and artificial intelligence to make more accurate predictions about air quality,” he says. “So we look at all the historical data and forecast conditions in the future around diurnal trends, weekdays versus weekends and correlations between types of pollutants, for example.
“It is interesting that just by using the available data in new ways we can now come up with reasonable predictions around specific pollutants in particular areas in future,” he adds. “This demonstrates the power of next generation technologies in managing waste and pollution.”
Chiwewe and a range of experts will participate in workshops at the Pollution and Waste Technology Africa conference, where the role of next generation technologies in multiple fields will come under discussion.
The talks will cover issues such as what the 4th Industrial Revolution means for waste and pollution, waste to energy, e-waste, innovative solutions for air quality management, mining waste and new technology, medical waste, waste water technologies and even the role of Google cars in measuring pollution.
“Next generation technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data analytics will play a growing role in managing pollution, waste and environmental affairs in future,” says Hanli Goncalves, portfolio director at Hanli Goncalves.
“They stand to revolutionise industry, improve efficiencies and possibly even reduce costs,” he adds. “This is why our key theme across Pollution and Waste Technology Africa and the co-located Africa Automation Fair and Connected Industries conference this year is Industry 4.0/IoT.”