Nordic Semiconductor backs South African Consortium of Air Quality Monitoring

Nordic Semiconductor backs South African Consortium of Air Quality Monitoring

The South African Consortium of Air Quality Monitoring (SACAQM) today announces that Nordic Semiconductor—a specialist in ultra-low power wireless technology that powers the IoT—is throwing its support behind the consortium with the provision of development kits, samples and technical expertise.

SACAQM is an international consortium that was founded with the goal of bringing together government institutions, research institutions, and the private sector into a mutually beneficial ecosystem in order to deliver an industry-disrupting AI-powered IoT air quality monitoring and prediction system.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), each year 3.2 million people die prematurely from illnesses attributable to household air pollution. Among these, 32 percent are from ischaemic heart disease, 23 percent are from stroke and 21 percent are due to lower respiratory infection. Poor air quality is also responsible for chronic disease.

Due to the high cost and complexity associated with the deployment of a traditional air quality monitoring systems, countries are forced to allocate their limited resources to monitor certain ‘priority’ sites which necessitates the omission of others. This problem is one faced by many countries such as with the South African Air Quality Information System (SAAQIS) and Swiss National Air Pollution Monitoring Network (NABEL).

SACAQM’s AI-powered IoT system is envisioned to address shortcomings in currently available commercial systems allowing for the global proliferation of affordable air quality monitoring systems. Enabled by low cost IoT end nodes, the addition of thousands of additional sensors provides the necessary data for the inclusion of AI that allows for real time analytics and ability to predict future air quality. 

Nordic Semiconductor has brought its industry-leading expertise and support to the initiative with its ultra-low-power wireless IoT product range that includes Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE), cellular IoT and Wi-Fi. This enables the development of air quality sensor nodes that can communicate using any or all of the world’s three most popular wireless IoT technologies.

“Technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence and IoT, provide the ability to make decisions and predictions around public health preparedness and risk management,” says Professor Mellado from Wits University and iThemba LABS. “This project is a good example of spin-off activities from fundamental research performed at the European Laboratory CERN.”  Professor Mellado is the Co-President of the Africa-Canada Artificial Intelligence and Data Innovation Consortium (ACADIC), which is funded by the Canadian IDRC, the Swedish SIDA and other sources.

“Nordic Semiconductor is delighted to add its support and technical expertise to this SAAQI initiative,” says Magnus Pedersen, VP of Sales EMEA, Nordic Semiconductor. “As a company we fully recognize the continuous need to consider our impact on the environment and on the communities in which we work. We hope the supply of Nordic development kits and technical expertise will help the overall goal of tackling air pollution.”  

ACADIC is excited that Nordic Semiconductor backing SACAQM, which ACADIC is part of. This timely collaboration will allow our researchers to access the practical skills, perspectives and sensitivity that only a company like Nordic Semiconductor can provide, enhancing clinical public health outcomes and creating positive change in local communities” says Prof. Jude Kong, the Director of ACADIC. “This will enable us to strengthen equitable and responsive health systems that leverage Southern-led responsible AI solutions to improve prevention, preparedness, and response to respiratory infectious disease outbreaks”

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