Planet Labs PBC, a leading provider of daily Earth data and information, and Microsoft Corp. announced an expanded partnership to apply artificial intelligence (AI) technology and satellite data to support African climate adaptation projects. This technology collaboration supports Microsoft’s recently announced first global expansion of its AI for Good Labs in Nairobi, Kenya and Cairo, Egypt, and the creation of a corresponding AI Innovation Council with local partners and organizations. non-profit. Through this program, Africa-based data scientists will have access to Planet satellite imagery from across the African continent to inform projects, as appointed by the AI Innovation Council, that specifically focus on systems early warning and climate adaptation – the process of adjusting to actual or expected effects of climate change.
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“Two things our Planet and Microsoft teams share in common are a very strong bias for action and for doing the most good at the most scale”
This initiative marks Planet’s third collaboration with Microsoft’s AI for Good Lab this year. Previous projects include the Global Renewables Watch (GRW) and the launch of the partnership – a robust building damage assessment at the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war.
“Two things our Planet and Microsoft teams share in common are a very strong penchant for action and for doing the most good at the most scale,” said Andrew Zolli, Planet’s Chief Impact Officer. “Once we could see how the combination of AI and satellite data could impact, not just technically, but how effective it could be when in the right hands, we immediately started thinking about the complex problems we could solve – humanitarian aid, climate change, food and energy insecurity, etc.
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Global watch on renewable energies
The business pair, in conjunction with The Nature Conservancy, today announced on Energy Day at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) 2022 that interested users can now register for private previews of the Global Renewables Watch (GRW), a first-of-its-kind living atlas intended to map and measure all large-scale solar and wind installations on Earth using the artificial intelligence (AI) and satellite imagery, allowing users to assess the progress of the clean energy transition and track trends over time.
Assessment of damage to buildings in Ukraine
The first collaboration that brought Microsoft and Planet together earlier this year was for the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General, working alongside the United Nations Operations and Crisis Center (UNOCC) to monitor schools, hospitals and schools. water, sanitation, hygiene and medical waste. management infrastructure (WASH) across Ukraine to understand who and what had been affected.
UNOCC supports UN senior management in decision-making, situational awareness, risk and crisis management. In response to the invasion of Ukraine and in anticipation of similar future situations, the goal was to develop a robust change detection system, leveraging AI and satellite technologies, that would circumvent the traditional challenges inherent in damage assessment and would support the scale and speed needed for ground crews to respond effectively.
The team investigated eight Ukrainian oblasts, coupling field reports from UNOCC with artificial intelligence and machine learning models from Microsoft in addition to satellite data from Planet, to identify and determine whether the infrastructure has been affected or destroyed, and to determine approximately when the damage occurred. From these mapping assessments, the team was then able to determine the number of people affected, comparing the confirmation of schools or hospitals damaged with the size of the student body or the number of patients registered.
“Previously, for those places where they could not be on site, UNOCC had no documented or reliable evidence of damage to buildings. Thanks to this project, the United Nations team now has a complete account of not only the infrastructure affected, but also the displaced and vulnerable populations served by these buildings,” said Juan Lavista Ferres, vice president of Microsoft and chief data scientist. “This is proof of the visible and actionable change that AI and satellite data can bring to solving complex problems, whether in humanitarian action, sustainability or health.”
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