How Blue Sky Analytics Is Utilising ML & Geospatial Data To Minimise Air Pollution

Founded by Abhilasha Purwar and Kshitij Purwar in 2018, Blue Sky Analytics is a Big Data and AI startup with a mission to provide actionable intelligence on environmental indicators.

In a recent report, PWC India stats show that over 60% Indians firmly believe in the power of AI to accentuate economic growth, stimulate delivery of health services, improve access to education, especially in remote areas of the country, enhance customer interaction, and pave the way for a more inclusive India. AI-enabled solutions can help close the demand-supply gaps. In 2019, the Indian AI startup market received funding of USD 760+ million, a 44% increase from the 2018 figures. Also, with the National AI Programme, the AI startup ecosystem is set to get a boost. 

Most organisations in India and around the globe have invested in physical infrastructure such as air quality (AQ) monitors to give predictions on air quality in the coming days. Others, like WattTime, are using AI to monitor industrial emissions. The Gurgaon-based startup, Blue Sky Analytics, on the other hand, is building a huge geospatial data refinery to hook data from public AQ monitors and low-cost IoT devices along with geospatial data to give air quality at a resolution of 1km2 pixel.

Founded by Abhilasha Purwar and Kshitij Purwar in 2018, Blue Sky Analytics is a Big Data and AI startup with a mission to provide actionable intelligence on environmental indicators starting with Air Pollution. Blue Sky Analytics is an angel-funded startup, and at present, the company is in the process of raising a seed round of USD $1 million. 

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The Flagship Product

In Oct 2019, Blue Sky Analytics launched BreeZo, which is a lightweight app that provides historical and real-time, contextual air quality data and forecasts to help individuals and families minimise their exposure to air pollution. The product BreeZo was started by aggregating raw ground measurements (IoT) by hooking government air quality monitors onto a unified platform to get a better understanding of the major air pollutants. The company is also building AI-enabled products for source apportionment: Zuri, for mapping farm and forest fires, and Zorro for monitoring industrial emissions. 

How Blue Sky Analytics Utilises AI/ML

The founding team at Blue Sky Analytics explored satellite data products like MODIS Terra (NASA), Suomi NPP (NASA), Sentinel 5P (ESA) to get more insights and realised a potentially huge market opportunity. BreeZo has been built on an automated multi-source data ingestion platform for various geospatial products from ESA & NASA and on-ground monitors (government or low-cost) using AWS cloud infrastructure. 

These geospatial datasets are stored in S3 data lake for further processing and analysis. It is then pre-processed with serverless Lambda architecture due to large memory footprint and low costs. The company also uses a PostGIS for geospatial queries and time-series databases (TimeScale DB) for improved processing, scalability, and resilience of our systems. Further, using artificial intelligence and hybrid (AI + deterministic) models, these complex data-streams are converted into actionable streams on the cloud with services such as AWS EMR and Sagemaker. At present, the machine learning algorithms developed at Blue Sky have reached an accuracy of 80%.  

The Core Tech Stack

Blue Sky Analytics is a deep-tech startup engaged in big data analytics leveraging AI/ML models to fill the spatial and temporal gap in environmental data. The proprietary geospatial data intelligence platform is built via a new and innovative application of multiple existing technologies which are mentioned below:

  • Public cloud infrastructure by AWS to build the backbone of all our solutions
  • Time-series database (TimeScale DB) to efficiently store and query IoT and environmental data
  • PostGIS for storing geospatial data and queries
  • Data from third-party IoT monitors to calibrate and train ML models
  • Geospatial datasets like AOD, BLD, NDWI, NDVI sourced from ESA & NASA via automated pipelines
  • Serverless architecture with AWS Lambda function for pre-processing the data from satellites
  • AWS EMR & Sagemaker building deep learning models and analysing the data

The Hiring Phase

At present, the company holds a strong team of 15+ full-time employees who come from diverse backgrounds like engineering, data science, economics, mathematics, and architecture. According to the founders, the company looks for three things in a candidate, which are mentioned below

  1. Their level of curiosity 
  2. Their resolve 
  3. Whether they care about some socio-political-environmental issue 

The founders said, “we send short assignments to the candidates, which are usually write-ups around the climate crisis. We also make sure to send easy technical problems, like a data scraping task, to candidates who apply for non-technical roles. We don’t judge people for their degrees and academic accomplishments but rather evaluate them for their skills and their propensity to learn.”

Potential Competitors

According to the founders, startups like Plume, and Air Visual operate in air quality space and can be considered as potential competitors. However, these startups have low traction in India.

Roadmap For Blue Sky Analytics

In the next 5 years, Blue Sky Analytics aims to become one of the leading global geospatial data intelligence firms with a niche and brand identity within the environmental sector. With data and analytics, the company hopes to enable the entire public, private, and social ecosystem to make informed decisions, catalyse swift action, and to assist in reducing the air pollution in India by 30-50%.

Also, check out Analytics India Magazine’s podcast show Simulated Reality with the CEO and co-founder of Blue Sky Analytics- Abhilasha Purwar.

Ambika Choudhury
A Technical Journalist who loves writing about Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. A lover of music, writing and learning something out of the box.

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