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Canadian University Dubai students develop solutions to promote smart green buildings

by Belinda Breeze

Project combines advanced technology and sustainability principles to improve efficiency

A team of students from the Canadian University Dubai (CUD) School of Engineering, Applied Science and Technology; has developed an innovative solution to help improve the health and efficiency of residential and commercial buildings. Known as Agri-Connect, the technology combines artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and elements of urban architecture, smart agriculture, and smart cities, to create an ecosystem that supports vertical farming within intelligent and responsive buildings.

Developed to align with the ‘Future Disruptors Program 2023’ competition by Software AG, the innovation was presented at this year’s Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX) Global Dubai. The project is the combined efforts of three Computer Engineering and Computational Science students, Yasmine Sadek, Moustafa Sherif, and Ayman Samsudeen, along with a recent graduate, Adel Yousefi. 

Explaining the thinking behind the innovation, Sadek said, “The future of cities lies in their ability to harness technology to create sustainable urban ecosystems. Smart buildings are the backbone to a flourishing society as they promote environmental sustainability and cost savings through the integration of different technologies.”

Describing how their technology plays a part, Sadek added, “Agri-Connect is a project that focuses particularly on innovations in farming and agriculture using IoT components.  It involves vertical smart farms that are incorporated into building designs and monitored through satellite imagery and the use of advanced sensors and cameras, to assess various plant health indicators, such as moisture and humidity, soil pH, and nutrient levels. It also enables residents to assess the general well-being of building operations, through indicators such as energy efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions.”

The project was showcased at GITEX alongside 12 other innovations from several university teams across the UAE. During a Gala Dinner staged at the Sofitel Hotel in Dubai, the Agri-Connect team was awarded 3rd position in the Future Disruptors competition. Speaking about the experience, team member, Sherif said, “We thank Software AG for selecting our project and supporting the Agri-Connect prototype, allowing it to be featured at GITEX. It was wonderful to have that platform, where we could demonstrate our efforts and make connections with professionals from many industries. It was an eye-opening experience and has greatly influenced the way I view my future professional goals and ambitions.”

Recent graduate and fellow teammate Yousefi added, “Presenting alongside Software AG was a transformative experience for me. The innovative atmosphere and engagement with potential collaborators opened new horizons for our project, providing both validation and vital feedback. These relationships and insights will undoubtedly shape the trajectory of our future endeavours.”

Mentoring the team was Dr. Rita Zgheib, Coordinator of the Computer Science and Software Design programs at CUD, who concluded, “By participating in the competition and presenting their interdisciplinary project at GITEX, the students have demonstrated the extraordinary potential of technology. Their project seamlessly integrates AI, IoT, and smart city concepts, and is a testament to the transformative force it holds in both agriculture and architecture. Their achievement is a beacon of inspiration for innovators and a testament to the boundless impact of collaboration and ingenuity.”