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Month: July 2017

Air Pollution: Kampala

A few notes from my visit to the city:

Tuesday: Arrived. A brief period of moderate panic on the plane when I thought I wouldn’t be let in without an electronic visa. But as of July 2017 people can still buy a single entry visa on entry. Had dinner down at Club 5. I think maybe it’s not as good as I remember!

Sensor on Boda boda

From left to right: Ssekanjako John, the bodaboda driver; me; Engineer Bainomugisha.

Wednesday: Engineer and Joel took me on a tour ’round Kampala to visit the sites where they’ve got air pollution monitors up. We first met the bodaboda driver who’s hosting one of the sensors on his motorbike. He’s had a bit of hassle from security asking what the box is, but he’s disguised it by painting it black and half hiding it under a shredded old bin bag!

Sensor on Jinja Road

Sensor on Jinja Road

The sensor on Jinja Road looks like it’ll be measuring quite a bit – it was surrounded by traffic regularly pumping out black smoke. I suspect that, of the pollution from vehicle emissions, the majority will be from a small proportion of vehicles…

A more sobering part of the tour was to the large dump, north of the Northern Bypass. There we saw hundreds of people (some with huts built in the dump itself) sorting through the rubbish looking for recyclables. I didn’t see much evidence of PPE.

 

Kampala's dump

Kampala’s main dump

The main source of particulate pollution here will probably be the dirt tracks but I suspect it will be quite low (there’s very little rubbish burning apparently, when we asked around). More concerning are gas and volatile organics. I imagine ground water is contaminated too.

Thursday: Block B was shut today as the government had rented it (I wonder who got the cash??!) to do interviews for parliamentary positions. Awkward as the lab with our equipment is in there. I got to hear a few presentations at the AI Lab though, and it was good to catch up with everyone.

I took a brief bit of time from working to visit the art gallery on campus. If anyone’s visiting Kampala and has a spare half-hour, I’d recommend it!

Friday: We got a monitor working on block B outside the lab’s window. It’s having trouble with its powersupply, so it’s somewhat erratic at the moment. I got the website up and running.

For old-times sake I went down to Mediterraneo for dinner. It still seems to be going strong, and has a nice vibe in the evening.

Next: Arusha!

Back at Makerere Guest House

Marabou Stork

A Marabou Stork (Image from wikimedia)

Back at Makerere working on the air pollution monitoring project with Engineer Bainomugisha.

One of my favourite things at Makerere is sitting at a table outside the guest house, with a cup of “African Spiced Tea”, watching the Marabou storks.

 

GPy Hack Day

We’ve just held the July GPy hack day. Key outcome: we’re going to be building the documentation in a brand new user-friendly way, based on sk-learn’s style, and using Tania’s new system for turning a bunch of notebooks into a website. Other notes from the meet. More on this soon…

Differential Privacy for GP available via pip

I’ve finally got differential privacy for Gaussian processes on pip.

 pip install dp4gp

Details and notes are in the development repo, and the paper it is based on is here. Although since then I’ve introduced inducing inputs, which appears to massively improve the results (see also presentation). The figures below demonstrate the scale of the DP noise added without and with inducing inputs.

Standard cloaking method

Standard cloaking method

Cloaking method with inducing inputs

Cloaking method with inducing inputs

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