SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — A San Jose high school student who designed a real-time flood tracker was chosen as one of 10 finalists for HP’s “Girls Save The World” campaign.
Deeya Viradia’s FloodFinder platform applies algorithms on the traffic camera feeds to calculate water surface area to provide real-time information during or after a flood.
“Girls Save the World” is program within the MIT Solv[ED] Youth Innovation Challenge, which called on girls ages 13-18 to brainstorm solutions to environmental problems facing their communities.
Viradia focused on floods. A heavy rainstorm in February of 2017 caused Coyote Creek to overflow into San Jose neighborhoods, prompting thousands of residents to evacuate.
Viradia said many residents were already standing in waist-deep water before they received their first evacuation order from the city’s emergency officials. Some flood victims had to be evacuated on boats.
“When I was 12 years old, my family moved from Maryland to the Bay Area. My friends told me that I was going to the heart of Silicon Valley, the land of cutting-edge technology,” she told KRON4.
A few months after Viradia and her family settled into San Jose, the storm hit.
“Water levels at the reservoir went into the danger zone, sending massive amounts of water into Coyote Creek, and finally flooding the streets. The biggest issue was the city’s failure to notify its residents that their neighborhoods were in imminent danger,” Viradia said.
“I could not fathom that this could happen in the tech hub,” Viradia said.
While taking her dog on a walk one day, Viradia noticed how many traffic cameras were dotted around neighborhoods. If live cameras can monitor cars, why not use them to also monitor flood water levels during a storm?
“It will be easier to leverage existing infrastructure to have the FloodFinder implemented with the least burden on the community. My wish, for now, is to work with city officials to leverage existing infrastructure and help get near real-time information to the authorities using FloodFinder,” she said.
Viradia said her ambitions to make a positive changes through technology grew with inspiration from her teachers at The Harker School in San Jose.
“Dr. Eric Nelson, the head computer science teacher at my school, has helped me with my love of learning and encouraged me every step of the way. He has made somewhat ‘hard’ subjects like Astronomy and Modern Physics more fun and interesting. He has been a great mentor and influencer in helping me to pursue further studies in the field of Astrophysics,” she said.
Girls Save the World Sustainability Challenge Top 10 Finalists:
The campaign intended to inspire, empower, educate, and support girls to become problem-solvers in their community and the world through the use of technology.
- Arya (Team Leader: Mehaa Amirthalingam; Sugar Land, TX, USA): A dual water toilet flushing system and a method to recycle the shower water to toilet.
- Bilge Vessel (Team Leader: Mannat Kaur; Delhi, India): A decentralized greywater treatment unit, an easy and DoItYourself home solution, which can be implemented at individual homes with no changes in the existing home plumbing network.
- Changemaking (Team Leader: Zixian Giselle Chen; Singapore): A tiered online collaboration platform that connects tertiary youth looking for meaningful, quality upskilling opportunities with sustainability-focused social enterprises that need temporary talent.
- Effective Climate Action Project (ECAP) (Team Leader: Luna Abadía; Portland, OR, USA): Bridging complex climate data sets and public understanding through simulation workshops and youth engagement.
- ELENA (Team Leader: Fátima Romero; León, Gto., México): A web project of storytelling and Maker culture that motivates children and young people to get involved in the development of technological projects with a sustainable focus.
- Etana (Team Leader: Elizabeth Nyamwange; Byron, IL, USA): A cost-effective device that enables women in developing countries to create a unique identity without having access to the internet or electricity.
- FloodFinder (Team Leader: Deeya Viradia; San Jose, CA, USA): To resolve the lack of real time information during or after a flood, FloodFinder applies deep machine learning algorithms on the traffic camera feeds to calculate water surface area.
- Hybrid Sanitary Napkin for Economic Change (Team Leader: Francesca Pendus; Pennington, NJ, USA): Helps women to achieve economic independence and social awareness creating informed global citizens who can lead others towards sustainability.
- Karesa Bazaar (Backyard Market) (Team Leader: Tara Pandey; Bagmati, Nepal): A mobile app to connect rural women entrepreneurs with socially-conscious customers in an open marketplace, allowing consumers to access sustainably-produced goods, while expanding economic opportunities for rural enterprises.
- STEM Girl (Team Leader: Amna Habiba; Karachi, Pakistan): Creating the next generation of Pakistani female change-makers by sparking scientific curiosity through storytelling, technology, and female STEM role models.