Innovative solutions shine as Water Alliance and Emirates Environmental Group announce winners of the 2023 RE-NEW Our WORLD Challenge

As a key sponsor and mentor for the 2023 edition of the RE-NEW Our World Challenge,Axis Communications, the global leader in network and video surveillance solutions, would like to congratulate all winners of this years’ edition of the challenge. In particular, Axis Communications is very proud that Aliya Nujum Navaz, who was mentored by the company, came in first place in the mid-age category with her innovative drone-powered firefighting solution.

The event ceremony, which was held at the SEE Institute in Dubai, marked the end of a four-month-long inter-Emirates challenge aimed at encouraging young minds in the UAE to develop innovative solutions to tackle various elements of the global water crisis. The challenge was hosted by the Water Alliance in partnership with the Emirates Environmental Group. Axis provided sponsorship, mentoring, and judging support based on its experience developing and bringing to market technology that contributes to sustainability goals.

“The RE-NEW Our World Challenge has once again proven to be an invaluable platform for discovering, exploring, and showcasing the ideas that will have a real impact on the lives of all citizens globally. We are exceptionally proud of all the young people who participated and submitted their ideas. It’s only by working together and nurturing innovation that we can make a difference,” said Edurne Gil de San Vicente, Program Director at Water Alliance.

“As part of a global community, we have a responsibility to address the socioeconomic and environmental issues that prevent us from building an inclusive, sustainable future for all. Technology is an accelerator, capable of making our world smarter and safer. By working with young people, including the winner of the mid-age category in this year’s event, and encouraging inventive ideas, Axis is taking a proactive stance and contributing to innovation where it matters most,” said Ettiene van der Watt, Regional Director, Middle East, Central Asia and Africa at Axis.

Award-winning ideas

The RE-NEW Our World Challenge aims to address any aspect of the global water crisis and water management concerns by inspiring young minds to explore new ideas that can make a meaningful difference in handling this valuable resource. The competition was open to students aged between eight and 18 in schools across the UAE, and saw participants split into three age categories. Their work was judged based on several criteria, including relevance, potential, impact, feasibility, innovation, and sustainability.

Sinchana Hiremath, who took home first place in the Senior Category, will go on to represent the UAE at the prestigious Stockholm Junior Water Prize international competition, with the finals scheduled to be held in Stockholm, Sweden, in August this year. The overall winner will receive a grand prize of $15,000 and a trophy presented by the prize’s patron, HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden.

The full list of the 2023 RE-NEW Our World Challenge winners is as follows:

JUNIOR CATEGORY (8 – 11 years old)

Winners: Abdulla & Hamad saif Almazrouei (brothers)

School: Ethen Primary School – Ras Al Khaimah

Water problem: Water scarcity

Water Solution: Repurposing the traditional Kumbar rope fibers from palm trees to enhance irrigation water efficiency.

MIDDLE CATEGORY (12 – 14 years old)

Winner: Aliya Nujum Navaz

School: Al Ain Juniors School – Abu Dhabi

Water problem: Water scarcity

Water Solution: An AI-enabled swarm of drones designed to reduce water usage during firefighting.

SENIOR CATEGORY (15 – 18 years old)

Winner: Sinchana Hiremath

School: GEMS Our Own English High School – Dubai

Water problem: Water pollution

Water Solution: A movement for responsible consumerism in high schools to raise awareness on the detrimental effect of microbeads pollution on marine life, combined with a novel Microbeads Radar App to read and help detect plastic components in labels of commercially available cosmetic and hygiene products. 

Using drones to fight fire

Thirteen-year-old Aliya Nujum Navaz won the challenge’s mid-age (12-14) category. Aliya’s cutting-edge solution, named Aqua Fire Flyze, uses drone technology to identify and target fires, serving as an alternative to traditional techniques that require and consume large amounts of water.

“Winning the first prize in the mid-age category for Aqua Fire Flyze felt like magic and took my breath away! I’m thankful to the UAE’s visionary leaders, the EEG’s support and the mentorship of Mr. Ronaldo. I’m excited to see my project come to life, transforming my dreams into a reality.”

During the challenge, Aliya received mentorship from Axis Technical Trainer, Ronaldo Esguerra, who provided advice on improving and presenting her idea. By using AI-enabled drones equipped with sensors and thermal imaging, firefighters can more accurately combat fires and pinpoint hotspots that should be prioritised. Drones can then be dispatched carrying fire retardant payloads, thus minimising the amount of water used and improving firefighting performance and efficiency. Aqua Fire Flyze also mitigates the physical risks faced by firefighters, providing them with information updates such as fire status and real-time location.

“Solutions like Aliya’s demonstrate how new sensors and surveillance technologies can upgrade and even replace traditional processes, impacting the lives of everyone involved, and the world around them. This is exactly the kind of innovation we need to solve global challenges. Congratulations to the organisers and all the students who participated. It was an honour to be able to leverage our strategic expertise to support the challenge,” van der Watt added.