There is a massive amount of data stored in an individual’s microbiome: data on eating habits, genetic tendencies, and overall health. As this data is flushed down the toilet, a vast reservoir of information on human health and behavior goes with it and lives on in the city’s sewage. Underworlds is a system to collect, analyze, and visualize biochemical information from sewage water—effectively sampling our collective microbiome. Working closely with researchers in Biological Engineering, Environmental Engineering, and Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, the project will allow the study of different species of bacteria, viruses and chemical compounds to help monitor urban health patterns; shaping more inclusive public health strategies and pushing the boundaries of urban epidemiology.
The project is currently being piloted in Cambridge and Boston, MA and Kuwait City. $4MM in funding has guaranteed the development of the project for three years.
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