Co-Director of the International Collaborations Pillar and Associate Director of the Education & Training Pillar, CUNY CREST, Dr. Neal Phillip and Associate Co-Director of International Collaboration Pillar, CUNY CREST, Paramita Sen contributed to installing six solar powered weather stations in two states of India as part of Phase II of a US state department public diplomacy grant project. They also serve as the principal investigators on this grant. 

Six weather stations were installed in two phases during January and February 2024 in the states of Orissa (3) and Telangana (3). Previously, six stations were installed in Phase I in September 2022 in Orissa (2), Telangana (3) and Andhra Pradesh. CREST Institute Executive Director, Dr Reza Khanbilvardi, CUNY CREST HIRES Director, Dr Shakila Merchant and CREST Research Scientist, Dr Tarendra Lakhankar also participated in some of these installations in Phase I.

The weather stations were installed at Bakul Foundation, KIIT University, ITER SOA University (Orissa), National Institute of Technology – Warangal, Woxsen University and Mahindra University (Telangana). The station at Bakul Foundation in Orissa was inaugurated by the Principal Secretary for Science and Technology for the state, Ms Chithra Arumugam. Ms Arumugam indicated that the state plans to install some 7,000 similar weather stations to monitor extreme weather events that normally impacts the state during the monsoon season. She challenged Dr. Phillip and Prof. Sen and Bakul Foundation to get at least 100 outcomes from the station within this year. 

 Weather Station Installation at Woxsen University

Commenting on the importance of the installation, Dr. Phillip said, “The stations that have been installed in India as part of the public diplomacy projects are putting weather and air quality data at the fingertips of local stakeholders India which is helping them to make better informed and data driven decisions about their lives.”

Through broadcast and social media coverage over 10 million people have been reached. Through print, broadcast and social media coverage on the public diplomacy project in the three states alone, over 5 million people have been impacted by the project. The stations which were installed are collecting important climate and air quality for these regions in India and are being used to help fill important gaps in weather coverage. Workshops on climate change related activities with faculty and students at the various collaborating HEIs were also conducted by Professors Phillip and Sen. The data is also being used by faculty to facilitate research on extreme weather and air pollution events affecting these various regions. The weather/air quality data that is generated is being included in curriculum activities at the institutions and at Bakul Library Foundation. The news of the installation of these weather stations has been covered/broadcasted extensively by platforms such as Odishabytes, OrissaPost, KiiT, Shiksha, Instagram, Soa Siksha ‘O’ Ausandhan, Telangana Today, ThePrint, linkedIn.   

Weather Station Installed at SOA University in Orissa

Commenting on this significant achievement, Prof. Sen said, “ Climate change is a wake up call for all of us.The weather station data which is publicly available can help us to make citizens more informed about the ongoing crisis.This project fostered collaboration between CUNY, the US Consulate Hyderabad, Indian Higher Education Institutions, government agencies, scientists, faculty and students to maximize efforts to combat climate change.”

The twelve weather stations installed for the US Consulate Hyderabad grant are part of twenty two stations in total that have been installed by Dr. Phillip and Prof. Sen in eight states of India through public diplomacy grants with US Consulate Mumbai as well. Included among the twenty-two stations is one that was installed in a rural area in the foothills of the Western Ghats in Maharashtra which is providing important climatological data for this crucial agricultural and water resources area of India. Funds for a Hackathon have been allocated by the US Consulate Hyderabad and US Consulate Mumbai to bring all participation institutions/organizations together in September to find ways to best utilize the weather/air quality data that is being generated from the 22 stations installed in India. A top IBM data scientist will be the keynote speaker and will provide guidance to the teams of students on data utilization/visualization. The top three teams will be awarded monetary prizes ($1,000, $750, $500 US).