Management Science Major at LUMS Aims to Create Pakistan’s First Smart City

Friday, April 12, 2019

Fatima Nouman Idris Yoshida aims to chase her vision of creating Pakistan’s first smart city and will start this journey by focusing on Smart Waste Management. “It’s crazy and ambitious to believe we can, but believing in a vision is the first step to achieving it. So we are already on track!” shares the enthusiastic Management Science major at LUMS.

‘Smart Bins’— a product by Fatima and team member, Moeez Nasir, a CS major at Comsats Islamabad, has won at Launchpad 13, an entrepreneurship competition held by Plan 9.

Plan 9 is Punjab Information Technology Boards’s tech incubator and is the pioneer incubation centre in Pakistan. 160 startups participated in the competition, of which the top 10 are to be incubated and given office space at Plan 9 along with seed investment to work on their startup.

The winning idea, Smart Bins, was based on creating smart city infrastructure, focusing on smart waste management. ‘Smart Bins’ are equipped with multiple sensors to remotely monitor the waste and dumping sites. The team used IOT and FoG technologies to develop this prototype.

Fatima, with her business mindset and Moeez, with his tech background, complimented each other perfectly to present a marketable tech product. Fatima is a Kaizen 6 Sigma Green Belt Certified, while Moeez is a Cisco and Huawei certified networker.

Sharing the development process of the project, Fatima said, “After over a year of work, the working prototype was developed by Moeez merely as a project. I saw the potential in the device as a possible city infrastructure product and together we applied for Launchpad 13 and were selected as the top 10 from a pool of 400+ applicants.”

The device utilises IOT, FOG computing, the world’s smallest computer i.e. raspberry pi and others to remotely manage waste. The smart bin can let you know of dustbin fill levels, where it is located, the optimal route to get to the dustbin and other information such as temperature and humidity levels within the container. This device can completely revolutionise the smart waste management industry. Waste management companies will have to send their fleets only when trash needs to be collected instead of following their routine schedules. This will bring about operational efficiency and potentially reduce costs by 80%. Furthermore, the device is equipped to notify the contractor of health hazards when microorganisms begin breeding in the trash, thereby mitigating risks of pollution born diseases.

Elaborating on how this idea came to her mind, Fatima said, “Simply because we realised how gravely our country was in need of smart city infrastructure! The rising population and urbanisation calls for necessary measures. In 10 years the population of Pakistan will be 245 million people, 50% of whom will reside in urban settlements. The current infrastructure is redundant in managing the cities of tomorrow. Integrating technology would help manage the challenges of these demographics.”

Fatima also shared that the device will address health concerns. “A majority of diseases in Pakistan can be attributed to pollution. Trash is a major concern (it’s dengue season and we have PSAs to pick up our trash). We wanted to create something that could possibly prevent that. Using the device, you will now be notified of health hazards before the bacteria begins breeding in the trash,” she said. “If we don’t want to be living in the stone ages tomorrow, we need to step up today. The cities of the future are smart and we want to be the ones who build them,” Fatima added. 

Fatima shared that she felt pride at telling people that she belonged to LUMS. “Most of the participants at the event were from technical backgrounds (since it was a tech incubator) and there were only a handful of women there. As a female from a business background, I definitely stood out. When I told people I was from LUMS, I could sense them perceive I was a person of calibre.”

Fatima attributes LUMS for her strength and confidence. “The safety and liberty this place provides is unparalleled in Pakistan. As a woman, I can safely say that LUMS has been a haven for me to explore myself, to grow as a person and to be my own person fearlessly. I am forever grateful for the culture this institute provides and hope it continues to be the sanctuary that it is, for others like me.”

Discussing her plans for the future, Fatima said that the coming months will be spent training under mentors at Plan 9. “We will be given office space at Arfa Technology Park and money from Punjab Government to work on our startup,” said Fatima.

Fatima urges fellow Luminites to be fearless and take risks. She says, “You are one of the finest this country has to offer and only if you move out of your comfort zone, you will be able to do disruptive things. Don’t aim to be a small part of a big corporation when you have the potential to create an empire of your own!”