AirSafi: University students’ solution to air pollution


Zetech University students Moses Majengo (left) and Kevin Gitau receive a certificate awarded for their innovation at the Inter-University Power Learn Hackathon.

Photo credit: Courtesy

What you need to know:

  • University students say their innovation goes beyond reporting air quality data.
  • The innovators believe their system is designed with sustainability in mind.

Two students of Zetech University have come up with an innovation to mitigate air pollution and address issues of climate change to improve the quality of urban atmosphere.

The students, Kevin Gitau and Moses Majengo, have come up with an innovation dubbed AirSafi which leverages on a dense network of sensors strategically placed to capture air quality data at a hyper-local level to ensure that users receive highly specific information about air quality in their immediate vicinity, unlike many systems that provide broader regional data.

“AirSafi incorporates sophisticated machine learning algorithms to analyze and predict air quality trends. These predictive insights help users plan their activities and take preventive measures against potential air pollution spikes,” said Mr Gitau. 

Mr Gitau’s co-innovator, Mr Majengo, added that their innovation goes beyond reporting air quality data and offers personalised health recommendations tailored to individual users. 

He said its feature is based on user profiles, including health conditions, age, and activity patterns and provides specific advice on minimising exposure and protecting health.

“On user engagement and community reporting, AirSafi encourages user participation by allowing community members to report local pollution sources and anomalies,” Mr Majengo said. 

The crowd-sourced data, Majengo explains, enriches the overall monitoring system and increases its accuracy and reliability.
Moreover, he adds, on matters educational and advocacy tools, the platform includes educational resources that inform users about the health impacts of various pollutants, particularly PM2.5.

“Additionally, AirSafi supports advocacy efforts by providing data and tools for community leaders to push for environmental policy changes,” he explained.

The innovators believe their system is designed with sustainability in mind, using low-energy sensors and renewable energy sources where possible that minimises the environmental footprint of the monitoring infrastructure.

“Users can customize alert settings based on their specific needs and sensitivity levels to pollutants. These alerts can be delivered via multiple channels, including SMS, email, and push notifications, ensuring users are promptly informed,” said Mr Gitau. 

On data transparency and accessibility, the two note that AirSafi prioritises transparency, making raw data and analysis methodologies available to the public.

They say this openness builds trust and allows independent verification of the data, fostering greater community confidence in the system.

The innovation has already won the duo Inter-University Power Learn Project Hackathon, which seeks to cultivate entrepreneurial and technological skills among college students.

The event, which took place at Zetech University's Thika Road Campus recently, drew more than 300 participants from different higher institutions of learning.

Zetech University Vice Chancellor Prof Njenga Munene, while lauding the innovators, noted that there is a need for universities to embrace innovations among its students to advance technological solutions for global sustainability issues.

“At Zetech University, we are dedicated to fostering technological advancements and entrepreneurial skills among our students by providing resources such as the Zetech University Innovation (iZet) Hub so that we can expose our students to different platforms where they can showcase their innovations for market linkages and commercialisation,” said Prof Munene.

He said the innovation and the triumph of Gitau and Majengo in the AirSafi project is a testament to the university commitment to nurturing innovation for a sustainable tomorrow.