Our Life is Safer with Smart Shelter Team
Winner of the Junior Academy Challenge – Spring 2022 “Internet of Things (IoT) Smart Homes” Sponsored by Ericsson
Published November 02, 2023
Team members: Al-Zahraa A. (Team Lead) (Oman), Tahra A. (Oman), Miaad A. (Oman), Taher A. (Oman)
Mentor: Venkatesan Subramaniyan (India)
The Middle Eastern Sultanate of Oman is vulnerable to extreme weather events like hurricanes and air depressions, which can cause severe damage and threaten lives. In Spring 2022, the New York Academy of Sciences ran a Junior Academy Innovation Challenge for high school students in Oman with a passion for science, focused on designing Smart Shelters to prevent loss of life. The challenge was won by four-member team “Our Life is Safer with Smart Shelter”.
“We chose to work on smart shelters because it is very important to protect people during wars or natural disasters,” explains Taher. “We researched and collaborated in meetings to get the best out of our project and raise our knowledge.”
Communicating over the Academy’s Launchpad platform, the students first considered the extensive needs of disaster survivors before coming up with solutions to improve shelters, noting that people seeking protection in adverse circumstances often need to spend lengthy periods of time in shelters before the risks subside.
Through online collaboration, and with guidance from their mentor, the students explored all aspects of life inside shelters and developed innovative approaches to enhance energy efficiency and improve the quality of life for residents. “Our team put a lot of effort in reading articles related to our topic, finding solutions to the problems facing us and creating new ideas, which can sometimes be strange,” says Team Lead Al-Zahraa.
The winning team’s submission focused on using data– in particular, the interconnected web of computing devices and digital machines known as the Internet of Things (IoT)– to monitor energy, water and air quality/air usage and improve the efficiency of service provision in the shelters automatically. They also highlighted the use of data to enhance security, register new residents, and to keep track of unsheltered people at risk in order to direct them to shelters with available space.
To generate energy, the team suggested integrating solar panels on shelter roofs and using tidal power in coastal areas. They also recommended deploying nanotechnology water purifiers to remove microbes, chemicals and other contaminants and secure a steady supply of drinking water for shelter residents. Sensors could serve multiple functions in smart shelters: they could be fitted on smart faucets to prevent wasting limited water resources, or be used to enhance flood drainage systems.
From measuring air quality to using smart-cultivation farming to provide food, the winning team addressed many of the complexities involved in providing effective protection to victims of natural disaster or war. Their comprehensive solution also included the use of apps to monitor health and nutrition among shelter residents. “This experience taught me a lot about Internet of Things (IoT) applications,” says Tahra. “I benefited greatly from the extensive research we did to reach the best possible solution and to fill the gaps as much as possible.”