Students develop app to mitigate Kathmandu’s garbage problem

01 May 2014

A group of Geomatics students from Kathmandu University have developed an android application that could go a long way in keeping the city clean. The app was developed during the recent SpaceApps Challenge held in Kathmandu on 13 April.

The app enables users to take pictures of garbage dumps and points out the exact location and quantity of litter. The information is then uploaded on a web map to alert relevant officials to take action.

The app won the first prize at the Challenge organized by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and Young Innovations. A member of the winning team, Niroj Panta, said the motivation to develop such an app came from their desire to see a cleaner Kathmandu.

“Initially, we had no idea what we wanted to do at the SpaceApps Challenge, but then we came up with this idea and are proud of the app,” he said. “We will now work toward improving the app further to achieve global standards”.

Niroj Panta’s team, G10E, and the first runners-up, Cool Nepal, will represent the country at the global International SpaceApps Challenge to be held later this year. They will compete with 180 teams from around the world.

The event also saw some very young participants. Among them, 18-year-old Ashim Sitoula and 16-year-old Swodesh Sedhai were named second runners-up. They developed an android rover that uses android smart phone to track an object and follow it.

The event was organized within the framework of SERVIR-Himalaya, an initiative supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) that aims to improve environmental decision making in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region.

In his opening remarks, SERVIR Project Director Dan Irwin, said such events bring together people who want to develop applications that improve people’s lives. Dan Irwin encouraged students to continue exploring their areas of interest.

Speaking at the closing of the event, ICIMOD’s Director Strategic Cooperation Basanta Shrestha highlighted the role of space technologies in benefiting societies with specific emphasis on mountain communities. “Technologies provide innovative solutions to communities and social challenges,” he said. “Challenges set out for this event sought to address real world problems, and the participants have been able to make remarkable strides.”

Basanta Shrestha announced that ICIMOD will select three innovative applications that link to ICIMOD’s thematic areas and extend support to develop them further.

Working tirelessly over 48 hours, 16 teams chose from five different thematic areas: technology in space, human spaceflight, asteroids, earth watch, and robotics to come up with applications, both software and hardware. The apps were judged on the basis of impact, collaboration, and presentation.

Acting Regional Programme Manager and Technical Coordinator of SERVIR-Himalaya at ICIMOD, Birendra Bajracharya, said the ideas that participants came up with have potential for expanding to wider application areas. Having sat in the jury for last year’s event, he said there were fewer challenges on hardware this year, but the mapping and mobile applications showed more clarity in conceptual design.

Winning team G10E receiving certificate from ICIMOD’s Director Strategic Cooperation Basanta Shrestha

The Makers-Ashim Sitoula and Swodesh Sedhai working on their Andriod Rover