Working in tech, it’s always a source of pride for me when the technology that I work with is used for good and there’s an impact that goes beyond profit.
Recently, I started working on a customer story where the client is using cloud technology and AI to drive social change. This experience got me researching more into how IBM technologies are impacting the larger community and I found some fantastic projects using cloud, data and AI.
Using tech for good in Asia Pacific
Below are just a sampling of the stories I found from Asia Pacific across three different industries.
Healthcare: Improving primary healthcare and prevention with AI
Ikure is a social enterprise that meets primary healthcare and prevention needs through a unique combination of health outreach initiatives, skills development and technology intervention. Ikure, working with IBM, used AI and predictive capabilities to create a model to identify patients who have the highest risk of suffering from a heart attack, helping enable doctors to see the most urgent cases first, and ultimately save lives. The best part of building on an IBM Cloud stack is that the solution can be up and running quickly without needing to recode. This becomes especially useful if iKure, or other companies that build a similar product, have to deploy or embed their application elsewhere. The below video has explained the concept in a simplified, demo environment. Do watch and learn more about this project.
Environment: Reducing coastal erosion on Australia’s Gold Coast
Coastal erosion is a major challenge in most countries and results in damage to or loss of not just the beaches, but also infrastructure. Coastal erosion disrupts fishing, navigation, recreation and other activities. Australia’s Gold Coast Council has invested AU$14 million into rehabilitation projects, but these are prohibitively expensive, time-consuming and only enable groups to focus on a small fraction of the vast coastline.
Nature’s own defense against coastal erosion is seagrasses. They are effective in stabilizing the sea floor but are slow to develop, taking 50 years to regrow. Sea grasses are also easily damaged by changes in the environment and by increased wastewater entering our oceans.
To ensure their survival, intervention plans require ongoing monitoring of sea grass meadows through the use of underwater video footage and manual assessment by marine scientists. IBM is helping marine scientists use AI for image segmentation, eliminating long hours of manually labeling video footage, taking the labeling time from eight hours to 20 minutes. The AI model is reaching an accuracy of 91 percent and with additional data and training is expected to increase even more in accuracy. You can read the article by ZDnet to learn more about this project.
Animals: Improving pet adoption possibilities
For animal lovers and homeless dogs, adoption shelters are where matches-in-heaven get made. But there are various issues when it comes to finding the right match. This often includes not knowing a dog’s history. People looking to adopt are eager to identify a dog’s breed and how that could affect possible health issues in the future. A lack of such information can prevent some dogs from finding the right home.
Joel Joseph developed a simple yet effective app using IBM Cloud and Watson capabilities to help remedy this situation. Instead of categorizing a dog’s breed by sight, Joel built a model to visually recognize a dog’s bread. He trained IBM Watson using approximately 20,000 dog photos of around 120 different breeds. Now, animal lovers can simply take a photo of the dog and let Watson advise you on the breed. The app is currently a minimum viable product (MVP) and improvements are in works. Joel’s article on how he got started and where the project is headed is a really good read. Visit the page to check it out.
Building technology solutions that drive cross-border social change
In addition to the three above examples of projects in Asia, IBM is working with a number of clients and official bodies to create and execute social and environmental welfare projects across the globe. Many of these projects are not limited by geography. Below are two such examples.
Smart water solutions address water scarcity
IBM collaborated with SweetSense Inc. to build an IoT network of water flow sensors in Northern Kenya. The cloud-hosted water management platform uses sensors to provide supply and demand patterns based on groundwater extraction data and help water managers reduce water loss through leaks, theft or metering inaccuracies. You can learn more about how smart technology can help monitor and manage water resources here.
Plastic Bank tackles pollution and poverty with blockchain
Plastic Bank is mobilizing recycling entrepreneurs from amongst the world’s poorest communities to clean up plastic waste in return for life-changing goods. Watch the below video or read the case study to learn more.
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