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 Climate Change

Air Quality
Published on: July 26, 2020, 6:43 a.m.
Sky is not the limit for this data analytics firm
  • Abhilasha Purwar and Kshitij Purwar, Founders of Blue Sky Analytics

By Business India Editorial

The planet needs a Digital Twin.” Abhilasha Purwar and Kshitij Purwar, Founders of Blue Sky Analytics believe that this is a critical part of the solution to climate change.

Digital Twin technology is not new – it has been in use by NASA since the 1960s. More recently, it has become a promising trend and has been adopted by large industrial companies. Digital Twin technology enables in-depth analyses by leveraging big-data, IoT and AI to detect potential issues, prevent downtime and test new business opportunities.

In the context of climate change, this technology is expected to have a powerful impact on understanding issues, monitoring and building solutions. The core of any Digital Twin technology, however, is the availability of robust data.

In the environment and climate space, the Blue Sky team believes the world is still functioning in the “pre-Google age” of environmental data. Most climate models are based on old and static data, even though current and dynamic data is available.

For example, it is hard to find real-time and dynamic data sets to draw meaningful insights about water supply in an area - water table, water levels in reservoirs and water quality. The data sets that do exist, are challenging to interpret and therefore unhelpful for critical decision making.

There are very few organisations around the world working on this kind of solution, but it has the potential to be both very valuable and deeply impactful as predictive analytics becomes increasingly critical in climate action. 

This is the big problem that Gurugram-based Blue Sky Analytics is addressing. Blue Sky is building an AI-driven geospatial refinery - a product that accesses multiple and diverse datasets (for example NASA and European Space Agency Satellites and sensors), analyses it, and creates accessible (often visual) insights to enable climate action.

The start-up bases its technology around cloud-based infrastructure, machine learning and AI, to provide high-resolution, high-frequency environmental data to global stakeholders. This is a niche area of focus and combines complex technologies with significant computational challenges - the data is available in terabytes and needs to be normalised and patched together, taking into account different sources and resolutions.

It is also the kind of challenge that the small team of data scientists and engineers enjoys the most - bridging the gap between the scientific community and the layman.  

The insights from their analyses could be important in informing decisions across multiple sectors, including where to build industrial and residential complexes, how to prepare cities for resource depletion, and the likelihood of climate crises from an actuarial model perspective. 

Kshitij and Abhilasha are positioning their solution as a Data-as-a-Service product, with a view to ultimately serving a broad spectrum of customers, including industry, agriculture, financial services, investment, non-profit organisations, students, policymakers, urban planners and individuals. Pricing of these insights is a factor of volume of the data required, quality or resolution of the data set and complexity of the indicator.

The company already has user interest from customers as varied as fitness, technology, hedge funds, and insurance companies. Blue Sky’s first product, Breezo, a dataset on India’s ambient air quality was released in 2019 and has seen significant inbound interest - over two million API hits to date.

Blue Sky plans to upskill talent in the country, by giving young data engineers problems that challenge them and have the potential to be impactful.

Founded in 2018, Blue Sky is a relatively young company. Its work and potential have been recognized in forums like MIT Solve and the Patrick McGovern Foundation. In 2019, the startup became the first Indian company to win the Copernicus Masters Social Entrepreneurship Challenge, an international competition to award innovative solutions based on Earth observation data at the 'Space Oscars' ceremony in European Space Week.  

Blue Sky is also the only company from Asia to be invited as a Founding Member of the Climate TRACE coalition for GHG monitoring. This coalition was recently launched by Ex-US VP Al Gore. 

Blue Sky is seed-funded by Beenext, Rainmatter by Zerodha and Stanford Angels. As they continue to identify new data sources and partners, and grow their team, Blue Sky Analytics aims to be the Bloomberg of environmental data.


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