Globally Unified Air Quality Project

Education

Led by

Lauinger Library’s Maker Hub and a student and faculty team representing the Georgetown College, Walsh School of Foreign Service, and McDonough School of Business.

 

Collaborators

While the air quality project began as a single course offering in the Walsh School of Foreign Service’s Science, Technology & International (STIA) program, the GUAQ project team is now a multidisciplinary cadre of faculty and students spanning Georgetown University.

The Challenge

According to the NIH, 1 in 8 people will die from air quality related issues. Air pollution has been linked to a variety of health concerns, including but not limited to decreased lung function, cancer, respiratory illness, and cardiovascular disease. Clean air is vital not only for public health, but also for economic development and education. Countless students and workers lose valuable school days and work days due to increased air pollution related illnesses. The first step in addressing this issue is measuring air quality in order to help communities better understand the problem at hand. Air quality monitors provide people around the world with a tool to advocate for better environmental policies and air quality reform ––however, these monitors are often financially out of reach for most communities.

Vision 

The Globally University Air Quality (GUAQ) team aims to bring air quality monitoring capabilities to underprivileged communities worldwide that lack viable and affordable access to air quality monitors. GUAQ is a highly modular, Internet of things (IoT) air quality monitor that incorporates industry-leading sensor technology. The device is able to capture data for temperature, pressure, humidity, and volatile organic compounds and provide data visualization. With the continued concerns of the negative impacts of air pollution, the GUAQ team hopes to provide these calibrated sensor set ups to regions of the world that do not have consistent, reliable access to air quality data at an extremely viable price. People will be able to use the air quality data from GUAQ to become better educated on air quality in their communities, creating a basis on which policy and social change can be implemented. With the tool providing educational and affordable access to air quality data, the GUAQ team hopes to empower people to make an impact in their community and seek air quality reform.

Project Impact

  • Recognizing the potential of the device and dashboard developed in the initial air quality course, this student- and faculty-led project was sustained beyond the classroom and developed into a fully functional product. The Globally Unified Air Quality (GUAQ) product has been tested in several environments, and is now ready to be brought out to a larger customer market and global delivery.
  • GUAQ has engaged with 16 Jesuit schools around the globe, and has begun shipping to regions including Kathmandu, Dar Es Salaam, Mumbai, Lima, and Micronesia. These schools were primarily located in underprivileged areas, where the device acted as both an educational tool for students learning technology as well as a resource for air quality data.
  • GUAQ has been recognized in the New York Times and Passports from the Heart for its meaningful work in providing better access to air quality data.
  • GUAQ was selected as a Finalist for the Tool Foundry Accelerator Program, which is a highly competitive program aimed to support and advance innovative scientific discovery tools.
  • In 2019, GUAQ had the opportunity to present at the Department of Defense’s Large-Scale Analytics Conference
  • In November 2019, GUAQ was awarded 2nd place at Georgetown’s Bark Tank competition out of the dozens of entries of undergraduate, graduate, and executive program students. The team received $20,000 in prize money, which will enable GUAQ to continue working on product and software enhancement, and the patent process.