Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience

Students Consulting for Non-Profits (SCNO) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) has been a partner with Students for a Smarter Planet for the 2013-2014 school year. SCNO is a national organization of undergraduate student-led consultant groups that provide pro-bono consulting to local non-profits. The SCNO at UIC chapter was formed in the fall of 2012. SCNO projects typically include various business aspects such as marketing, fundraising, organizational strategy, and finance.

SCNO at UIC first partnered with Students for a Smarter Planet to support a financial analysis and strategy plan for a small non-profit based in Chicago called Community Building Tutors (CBT). CBT provides free after-school tutoring and programming to Chicago Public School students and focuses on positive character development and social-emotional learning. The organization was founded in 2004 and relies primarily on donations to cover its operating expenses. Due to this, its funding has been cyclical over time and maintaining stable operations has been a challenge for the organization.

Thus, a team of SCNO at UIC consultants worked with CBT to complete an analysis of its budgets since its inception in 2004 as well as financial projections for the next 5-10 years. CBT has plans to expand throughout the Midwest and nation within the next 5-10 years in order to have a greater impact on urban students. In doing so, it’s imperative for CBT to know the level of funding required to fuel this growth. The final scope of the project included an analysis of CBT’s past operations, financial projections for expansion, and overall recommendations in terms of securing funding and expanding the organization strategically.

In addition to the CBT project, Students for a Smarter Planet also supported an additional three projects with different non-profits in the fall semester and is currently supporting three new projects this semester. This semester’s projects will be wrapping up within the next few weeks, stay tuned for updates on those!

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Some of our award winners were at the Engineers for a Sustainable World conference last week.  We took a couple photos.

Evanston-20140411-00161 Evanston-20140411-00162

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April, 21st 2014

This past weekend, the Berkeley Energy and Resources Collaborative (BERC) hosted its second annual Cleanweb Hackathon. This event was a powerful embodiment of BERC’s mission – to connect, engage, and educate its members in order to foster innovation and action; it was a forum for attendees to learn about the trends in cleanweb, learn about basic application development skills, and build connections with each other. After an evening of mingling and a morning of skills training, the 40+ participants (who hailed from UC Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, and the greater Bay Area) raced to build web-based applications to address current challenges in energy and water.

Winners of BERC’s 2014 Cleanweb Hackathon

The Hackathon, which was selected as Students for a Smarter Planet project, posed questions across different tracks. Each team selected a track to focus on; one grand prize was awarded for the winner, and individual prizes were awarded within each track. Fueled only by pizza, optimism, and an irrepressible desire to change the world, our teams sought to address these questions:

  • Energy: How can our appliances and devices work for us by saving money and increase the ability of the power grid to make use of intermittent renewable power? Define a new approach to controlling appliances and devices that is responsive to electricity prices and other real-time and predictive data streams (e.g., weather forecasts).  
  • Water: California is an ongoing drought, yet not enough action is being taken by individuals, businesses, and cities to conserve water and lower the collective water footprint of our society! Design a web application or visualization that can lead to better understanding and action on water use in California. Consider both direct water use as well as indirect water use (from our consumption of food and electricity for instance).

Our judges were impressed by the resourcefulness and creativity of the teams. In a matter of hours, they devised innovative ways to meaningfully use energy and water data, employ sensors in entirely new applications, and empower consumers with the data they need to take action on energy and resource issues. And now (drumroll please!), here are the 2014 Cleanweb Hackathon winners:

  • GRAND PRIZE: Smarter Sprinklr - A combination of open source hardware and software to make intelligent home irrigation schedules based on current weather, drought, seasonal, and user-based information.
  • WINNER – WATER: QE Design – Different foods from different places can have the same nutrition, but require vastly different amounts of water. Given all the data available today, what’s the optimal way to eat, to sustain both ourselves and the Earth? QE Design’s solution analyzes USDA and Water Footprint Network data to make diet recommendations.
  • WINNER – ENERGY: Greenvite - The smart, green, social way to organize a meeting and book a conference room with your colleagues. The app analyzes available conference rooms and time slots, and then calculates associated energy use and costs (taking into account weather, HVAC loads, time of day, and other data), so that the least amount of energy is used while saving money.
  • RUNNER-UP – ENERGY: DashPower - The app allows building managers to catalog and forecast energy costs, and compare those to their allotted budget. The app was designed with school facility managers in mind, since energy costs are the 2nd highest line item expenditure for schools after teacher salary.

Please check out our winners’ apps! Although the competition ended this weekend, we hope that these projects will live on (in fact, we’ve got a track record for being the launching pad of cleanweb apps! Check out last year’s winners Watttime and Thermostatly). And while the teams competed for cash prizes, the real winners here are the students and our community. The teams’ innovative yet practical applications inspired us all to consider our everyday use of energy and resources in novel ways.

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[[Before reading this article, I recommend that to read our introduction article in this link]]

Our Project is designed and created for basically mobile devices like mobile phones or tablets. In addition to this, we must use/connect database frequently in mobile application for working the system properly. There are some classic ways providing database service, but cost of realizing a server is not very cheap and also is complex.

We are luckily for IBM have a solution + service which name is BlueMix to solve these problems by providing cloud services . BlueMix is a platform in which user publish application and create database like Cloud Services with very friendly user interfaces and beta version is free of charge. BlueMix beta version gives 8 GB memory and max 20 services to use whatever what to do.

Codename: BlueMix includes not only java and databases but also has a lot of different services related to big data, data management or mobile applications.

First of all, we use SQLDB(a special DB2 version for BlueMix) and Liberty For Java ( a special WebSphere Application Server Liberty Profile for BlueMix). We moved our project to Liberty For Java and increased instance number and define memory to 2 GB. Therefore we reached very high process capability and our project was easily migrated from local to BlueMix with WAR Packed. Also, we increased SQLDB’s memory, so was provided very strong database service.

When we migrate to BlueMix, we changed only connection information like hostname and password  for SQLDB in web application and mobile application. Except for this, there is no need extra efforts to migrate the project to BlueMix.

Now, our project is easily accessed with database via URL and automatically is published on World Wide Web.

We continue to develop our project with RSA IDE in local and we will publish on BlueMix at the end of the project. Please do not forget, because of BlueMix restrictions you can not directly access BlueMix SQLDB with your personal computer. Bluemix SQLDB only accepts connection with applications published in BlueMix. To solve this problem, we design a web application and use this new application to get some information from database like notifications as a XML or JSON type.

Stay Tuned For Our Next Writing.

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April, 14th 2014

First of all, IBM started smarter planet corporate initiative in 2008. Since that day, IBM has developed and encouraged people to create smarter ideas for smarter planet to develop life standard for human who live all over the world.

Smarter Healthcare is one of the most important areas in this initiative.  According to academic studies, people medicine use rate has increased and nearly every one of three elderly patient (in Turkey) take medicines wrong amount and /or in wrong time[1]. Also, one study[2] showed that  medicine taking time notification and other technological reminders increase effectiveness of medicines. According to Glaxo Smith Kline, there are over 300 million Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease patients in all over the world.

Our Mobile Health project warns people for medicine intake time and increases effectiveness of medicine. Therefore community health will gain positive impact. Air pollution is a very popular problem especially in the big cities. People who has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, are warned with hardware module which connect to mobile phone about air quality.

Furthermore our project focus on an effort for returning unused medicines to public service.  There are a lot of unused medicines at the persons and our system easily shares and tracks these medicines to help patient who needs. So That, medicine waste will be decreased and especially poor people can access these medicines without paying money. Our main aim creates a subconscious about healthy life in the community.

At last but not least, our project follows and records daily activities in accordance with calorie information and create reports for doctor or dietitian and supplies a connection from doctor to patient with private messages.

When we design our project, we take into account what we have learned in our courses.  This project is associated with three main courses which are Software Engineering, Database Management System and Internet and Mobile Programming at Computer Engineering. Therefore our study group can apply our own knowledge which are learned thanks to courses, on this project.

In this project, we use generally IBM technologies which are DB2 Express C as Database, Websphere Application Server as Application Server and RSA or Eclipse with Worklight as IDE,  with Java Programming language except for hardware modules.

IBM provides very good opportunity to the student for making project like this with not only fund but also resources and  advanced IBM programs with no cost via IBM academic alliance. Thanks to Wendy Murphy and ‘Students for Smarter Planet’ Family for very selfless helping.

We will publish next writing on April 23. Stay Tuned For Our Next Writing.


[1]     Pinar Akan, Deniz Erdinçler, Vecdet Tezcan, Tanju Beger “Yaşlıda İlaç Kullanımı “  Turkish Journal of Geriatrics  Geriatri 2 (1): 33-38, 1999

[2]     Gemma Phillips,  Leandro Galli,  Louise Watson,  Lambert Felix,  Phil Edwards,  Vikram Patel,  Andy Haines, The Effectiveness of Mobile-Health Technology-Based Health Behaviour Change or Disease Management Interventions for Health Care Consumers: A Systematic Review Caroline Free mail, January 15, 2013, PLOS Medicine 2013DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001362

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