Throughout 2021 – 2022, the Marconi Society partnered with the Research and Education Network of Uganda (RENU) and Makerere University School of Public Health – ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) to plan and execute the Celestini Uganda Program. The Celestini Uganda Program is designed to foster innovative ideas among technology-focused graduate students in Uganda. This unique program offered 39 students at six universities the hands-on opportunity to create network-based proofs of concept to solve critical problems in their communities.
Engagement at RAN with the IoT team to share project progress Photo Credit – RAN
The project working to design a water leakage detection and control system testing the sensors at RENU
The Celestini Uganda Program is designed to provide holistic support to students, including innovative instruction, interactive proof of concept, design and mentoring from established scientists.
One of the teams engaging in the soldering workshop. Photo Credit: Nelson Mabirizi
The Marconi Society, RENU and RAN were joined by the Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC), the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) and the Marconi Institute for Creativity to offer 23 hours of instruction for the research teams. These workshops focused on IoT, innovation and creativity to help students identify community needs and engage partners in an iterative user-oriented design approach.
Together with community partners including Kampala Capital City Authority, Kyassuma Coffee Farm, Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Limited, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), Joseneous Street Parking Investments LTD Uganda, National Water and Sewage Corporation and more, students created six projects aimed to improve their local communities. These projects helped to:
- Assist farmers to increase their crop yields by monitoring soil moisture levels. This community-based project will train up to 50 farmers how to read and use the soil sensors.
- Increase the usage of IoT in rural schools as a strategy for monitoring and improving local community access to safe water. Students in this project will deploy sensors and gateways to gather data on water quality.
- Reduce traffic congestion in Kampala by improving city parking management through the design and implementation of an intelligent IoT based Smart Street Parking Management Platform. Sensors relay parking information to the cloud, then have a cloud-based application to take in the sensor data to then relay it to the app for better parking management.
- Develop a power theft monitoring and control system on a prepaid single-phase energy meter, based on a low-cost long-range wireless technology.
- Develop a system to quantify the green infrastructure requirements for different types of settlements around Makerere Hill.
- Design a water leakage detection and control system that senses and alerts control offices about the flow inconsistencies in the water distribution network.
LoRaWAN project prototypes
To offer guidance to the students on everything from technical questions to team dynamics to professional growth, the Marconi Society matched each research team with a mentor. These mentors include Marconi Society board members and Young Scholars, along with expert professionals from Networking Networking Women (N2Women). Mentors support students monthly, engaging virtually via a video platform. They also share continuous electronic communication and offer diverse technical and non technical support directed towards effective activity implementation to the project teams. All teams communicate with their mentors via email and telephone between meetings.
The Marconi Society is grateful to the many partners and students who have taken part in the Celestini Uganda Program and believes that this critical investment will help make the opportunities of the network available to many more people.
Author: Harriet Adong, Director Communications, Learning and Knowledge Management, RAN