The Underworlds Project: Smart Sewage Infrastructure for Kuwait

A vast reservoir of information on human health and behavior lives in our sewage, but this vast resource remains untapped. We envision a future in which sewage is mined for real-­time information that can inform policy makers, health practitioners, and researchers alike. The Underworlds Project is an innovative, open, cross-­‐disciplinary data platform for monitoring urban health patterns, shaping more inclusive public health strategies, and pushing the boundaries of urban epidemiology.
The project proposes to develop a prototype smart sewage platform, called Underworlds, consisting of physical infrastructure, biological and chemical measurement technologies, and the downstream computational tools and analytics necessary to interpret and act on our findings. The Underworlds Project consists of two activities:
  • Building the Underworlds platform. The first stage of the project is to develop and validate prototypes of all components of the platform (physical, biochemical, and analytical). 
  • Collaborative MIT­‐Kuwait Application projects. Once the platform is established, we will work together with Kuwaiti stakeholders to implement a series of projects ranging from infectious diseases tracking (influenza, rotavirus, etc.), to the emergence of antibiotic resistance, to the effects of policy on public health (e.g., obesity).
A key component of the Underworlds project is to develop tools to communicate our findings to the public and relevant government and industry stakeholders that can benefit from the platform. 
  Carlo Ratti, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT
  Eric Alm, Department of Biological Engineering;
  Jon Runstadler, Department of Biological Engineering;
  Martin Polz, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering;
  Elfatih Eltahir, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering;
  Daniela Rus, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research Co-PIs:
  Sameer Al‐Zenki, Department of Food & Nutrition (Kuwait Team Leader);
  Kazi M. Jamil, Department of Food & Nutrition;
  Tareq Al-Ati, Department of Food & Nutrition;
  Ashraf I. Ahmad, Department of Biotechnology
Kuwait University Co-PIs:
  Entesar H. Husain, Department of Pediatrics;
  Rawa Aljarallah, Civil Engineering Department
Link to Labs: