Humanitarian aid project finalist in IBM tech awards

UK-developed IBM visual recognition-based solution helps humanitarian aid workers’ response times in Africa.

Chloe Green | 26th Apr 18
Winning team (L-R): John Teltsch, General Manager, IBM Global Business Partners; Simon Peel, Technical Consultant, Edit; Jacqueline Woods, Chief Marketing Officer, IBM Global Business Partners

Multi‐service agency Edit has been saluted in the finals of the IBM Beacon Awards 2018 with its innovative ground image classifier solution developed to improve humanitarian aid tech support in Africa.

The IBM Beacon Awards recognise IBM Business Partners who have delivered exceptional solutions using IBM products and services that transform the way its clients and industries operate. Edit’s Technical Consultant Simon Peel led a team from the Bath-based agency that used IBM Watson Visual Recognition as a basis for developing a high-end prototype image classifier for use by aid worker teams.

The classifier was developed in response to a common problem faced by humanitarian teams on the ground in Tanzania. The teams’ response times were hampered by a lack of accurate geographic data – particularly data that identified human settlements and occupied buildings.

The project aims to assist the charity Crowd2Map Tanzania, which operates through Missing Maps, and the Humanitarian Open Street Map Team project, to decipher areas in rural Tanzania where homesteads are likely to be present – thereby highlighting where aid or support may need to be focused.

Representatives from Crowd2Map Tanzania, MissingMaps and British Red Cross have shown an interest in the Edit project. Discussions are now underway to implement the solution across wider aid efforts.

“Having worked with charities in Tanzania I discovered that a number of time‐critical mapping projects don’t get completed within the required time,” said Edit’s Simon Peel. “This left the humanitarian aid teams without the local maps that they required. The aim of this solution is to dramatically speed-up the mapping process so that teams can quickly provide humanitarian assistance.”

Peel added: “I hope that being recognised by the IBM Beacon Awards raises awareness of the [implementation potential of this] humanitarian aid solution. From a professional point of view, it’s fantastic to be recognised by IBM who are holding this project up as example of Watson’s capabilities, and we’re looking to get their support to develop this further. Watson is an incredible computing technology platform.”