Pakistani tech start-up hopes to tackle trash with ‘smart bin’

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Syed Shahrooz Shamim, founder and CEO of tech start up, LinkGiz, with his team and their project, smart bins, at Karachi’s Expo Center on September 17, 2019. (AN photo)
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Updated 29 September 2019

Pakistani tech start-up hopes to tackle trash with ‘smart bin’

  • A device fitted onto bins allows users to monitor trash input, disposal and prevents spread of germs
  • Special sensors transfer data to a central database that users can access through an app

KARACHI: A technology start-up in Pakistan’s southern metropolis of Karachi, a city that is among some of the world’s most polluted places, now sells a device that could modernize the management of waste disposal in the country, and it’s called a smart bin.
The company, LinkGiz, started work on the project in 2016, with manufacturing kicking off earlier this year using Internet of Things (IoT) technology, a system of interrelated computing devices that transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. The technology that comes with smart bins is already being used around the world, but has never before come to Pakistan. Though still in its early days, the company says it has sold about 60 bins.
“The smart bins are equipped with sensitive sensors and linked with a central database that allows timely dispose of the garbage,” Syed Shahrooz Shamim, founder and CEO of LinkGiz, told Arab News.
“You will know the exact quantity of the garbage, the nature (organic or inorganic) of what’s inside the bin, and... the last time waste was disposed of. It not only gives data of the garbage, but it also kills harmful germs with the use of germicides,” Shamim said.
The IoT enabled devices that cost up to Rs. 5000 ($32) and can be fitted onto bins and waste containers of any size, have arrived on the waste disposal scene in Karachi when Pakistan’s central and provincial government of Sindh are engaged in heated discourse that is being dubbed “garbage politics,” amid growing piles of waste and rising disease, in the country’s largest city of 15 million people.

The smart bin, a complete software and hardware system, displayed at Karachi’s Expo Center on September 17, 2019. (AN photo)

Though no official figures are available, it is estimated that Karachi produces 14,000 tonnes of garbage every day, with not all of it properly moved to landfill sites and the city’s leftover waste ending up in the sea.
“Around 8,000 to 10,000 tonnes of garbage is lifted from the city to designated sites while leftover garbage is thrown in the streets or in the drainage. Around 3,000 to 4,000 tonnes of garbage ends up in the Arabian sea every day,” Mehmood Moulvi, an advisor to Pakistan’s maritime affairs ministry, told Arab News.
“These (figures) are nearest to the actual. No one has the accurate figures,” he said.
The smart bin is a combination of software and hardware capable of communicating with a cloud-based interface, that users can access through an app. Though not yet marketed in a mass way, it could keep municipal workers and managers informed about the volume of waste, the presence of any toxic gas from the waste, as well as give recommendations about the size of the bin customized to the amount of waste produced at a particular location, according to the device’s creators.
“It prevents the spread of viruses up to 40 percent and keeps the performance of sanitary workers in check,” Shamim said.
Presently, smart bins are being used in the National Incubation Center of NED University and Usman Institute of Technology in Karachi, where the system was first developed for Pakistan.

46% Pakistanis with coronavirus have travel history to Iran — WHO 

Updated 04 April 2020

46% Pakistanis with coronavirus have travel history to Iran — WHO 

  • 27% Pakistanis with covid-19 have travel history to other nations, 27% confirmed cases are local transmission, WHO says in report
  • Around 6,000 pilgrims had entered Pakistan without being properly screened for coronavirus on the Iranian side — Director General Health

ISLAMABAD: About 46 percent of Pakistanis who have tested positive for the coronavirus have a travel history to Iran, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a report published on April 1.

Pakistan closed its border with Iran last month following the outbreak in the neighboring country, which has reported more than 47,500 cases of coronavirus and more than 3,000 deaths, making it the worst hit country in the Middle East. Pakistan, where testing for the
virus is not widespread, has 2,696 confirmed cases and 40 deaths. 

“Out of the total 2,039 confirmed cases in Pakistan till April 1, 46% have a travel history to Iran, 27% had travel history to other countries and local transmission has been reported in 27% of the confirmed cases,” the WHO report said. 

All data used in the report comes from the government of Pakistan, Dr. Palitha Mahipala, WHO’s Pakistan representative, told Arab News on Saturday. 

Pakistan and Iran, one of the countries worst hit by the outbreak, share a 900 km border, which is frequently used for trade and by Pakistani Shiites, who travel to Iran for religious pilgrimages, often crossing at a border crossing at Taftan.

Pakistan’s Director General Health, Malik Muhammad Safi, told Arab News, that around 6,000 pilgrims had entered Pakistan without being properly screened for coronavirus on the Iranian side. 

“Iran announced their coronavirus outbreak very late due to which more than 6,000 zaireen [pilgrims] entered Pakistan unchecked, which became a source of local transmission in Pakistan,” Safi said. 

He said Iran’s late announcement of the outbreak within its borders resulted in the spread of the respiratory illness to many regional countries.

Indeed, Iran has emerged as the second focal point after China for the spread of coronavirus. Cases in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, and even Canada have all been traced to Iran.

The Iranian government denies concealing facts about the outbreak. President Hassan Rouhani said during a televised speech on March 18 that his government had been “honest and straightforward with the nation.”

WHO officials said in early and mid-March that Iran’s response to coronavirus was coordinated and evolving in the right direction, but that more needed to be done.

Talking about Pakistan’s anti-coronavirus efforts, Saifi said the government would use 14,000 nationwide polio eradication centers as part of its coronavirus response.

“We are going to use all these 14,000 centers, and also 200 polio surveillance officers have also been deputed for the surveillance of potential coronavirus patients,” the director general health said. “We have started COVID-19 testing at 20 places around Pakistan and working on taking this number to 50 labs to increase testing across the country.”