CITRIS Big Ideas winners for 2010

This year, CITRIS awarded seven student-led proposals a total of $30,000 in prize money at the April 22 poster session for our annual White Paper competition. The judges had a very difficult time determining these winners, as all of the proposals that we received were outstanding, and everyone who entered should be congratulated for their hard work and insightful ideas about complex societal problems. Congratulations to this year's winners of the CITRIS Big Ideas competition!

• Co-first place, $8000: NextDrop, led by Anurag Sridharan. NextDrop will provide users with water availability data to reduce the enormous social cost of not having access to such information. Unlike traditional intervention methods, NextDrop can be implemented on the order of months, rather than years. Moreover, NextDrop employs a sustainable model that does not require utilities and governments to invest billions of dollars improving infrastructure. There are three fundamental types of information NextDrop will generate: near real time updates indicating water availability in the relevant valve area, NextDrop generated water delivery predictions in valve areas further down the water pipe network system, and access to the utilities' delivery schedule, to facilitate better planning. Although NextDrop addresses all of these information needs, the core value is in predicting water delivery and updating people of water availability in the relevant area.

• Co-first place, $8000: Virtual Electrified Vehicle Test Drive, led by Laura Schewel. The Virtual Electric Vehicle Test Drive (VEVTD) is a mobile device-enabled system that allows users to experience aspects of driving EVs while still using their conventional vehicle, in order to help them build knowledge to support a decision to purchase an EV in the future. VEVTD highlights the ability of a Smart Transportation application to: (1) inform drivers about their daily miles driven and fuel expenses, and (2) to provide a “virtual test drive” to support educate them about EVs. Recent studies have found that education can significantly increase consumer interest in purchasing an alternative vehicle technologies by numbers ranging from 2% to 30%, as well as “correct” interest from consumers who might be a bad match for a specific alternative technology by 20%.

• Co-second place, $5,500: Saving Mothers and Infants with Solar Powered Light and Communication, led by Laura E. Stachel. WE CARE Solar has developed and pilot tested the Solar Suitcase, a portable, turn-key solar-powered electricity system that provides reliable electricity, lighting, and mobile communication to maternity care facilities in developing countries. The basic suitcase is an affordable, safe, user-friendly and immediately operational electricity system that provides surgical and obstetric overhead lighting, mobile lighting using LED headlamps with rechargeable batteries, and power for cell phone and two-way radio charging. The improved surgical lighting, charging capacity, and establishment of a reliable mobile communication system increases safety, efficiency, and timeliness of emergency obstetric care, and reduces maternal and infant mortality in low-resource settings.

• Co-second place, $5,500: Autonomous Marine Scanning Surface Vessel, led by Daniel Ascencio-Hall. Our project aims to create an inexpensive autonomous surface vessel to scan and store marine animal and structure information. By using low cost off-the-self components and adding a remote control to the vessel, there is no longer a need to rent a ship to launch the vessel. By storing fish and bottom structure data in addition to GPS coordinates, research can then be done to help solve the problem of decreasing fish populations. Most recorded fish data has to be done in real time without access to older records and this project will allow data compilation and storage for future comparisons so that areas of interest can be studied.

• Honorable mention, $1000: Distributed Computing for Open Access Solar Forecasting: Information Technology Lowering the Cost of Solar Energy Worldwide, led by Ricardo Marquez. This project aims to create a distributed computing network that will enable large scale forecasting of solar irradiance. This idea will take advantage of extending single-point forecasting methodologies that are currently in the mature stages of research. To account for the massive computational resources necessary for such large scale forecasting, volunteer and grid computing through UC Berkeley's BOINC system will be utilized. The results of these forecasts will then be made available to the public through the use of current information technologies (e.g. Google Earth).

• Honorable mention, $1000: eHealth & Information Systems Nigeria: "Instant EMR", led by Evelyn Castle. eHealth Nigeria is focused on improving maternal and child health in Northern Nigeria by creating effective ways to implement reliable health information management systems. The "Instant EMR", is a medical records systems that can be rapidly deployed to manage patient information, streamline clinical procedures (patient referrals and drug ordering), and provide data and analysis on health program outcomes. eHealth Nigeria will use the data provided by the "Instant EMR" implementations to create the prototype Nigerian Health Information Exchange (NHIE). The NHIE will provide access to timely health system indicators needed by government and NGOs to evaluate their health interventions and respond to critical public health needs. From June to September 2010, eHealth Nigeria will equip seven general hospitals and five primary healthcare centers with the "Instant EMR". In September, the NHIE will go live and provide health program indicators to Pathfinder International and local government health officials.

• Honorable mention, $1000: LOCAL GROUND, led by K. Joyce Tsai. Gathering and analyzing geospatial information is critical for many decision makers, planners, and developers. Yet in many contexts, there are significant challenges to collecting this data, including cost constraints, the lack of availability and trained operators of hand-held GIS (geographic information system) devices, and the difficulty in finding staff who have the time or training to organize spatial data. Local Ground combines the best of paper and pixels by using paper maps to capture rich qualitative data, creating digital versions of the hand-drawn annotations, then importing the annotations to a digital map. Using paper maps instead of GIS devices makes the data collection process cheap, portable, and, most importantly, easy to learn. Digitizing the data then allows planners and community members to collate and analyze the data with our user interface, and our visualization tools enable them to share their findings with key decision makers.


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