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IBM Advances Geospatial AI to Address Climate Challenges

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IBM has announced new efforts that apply its geospatial AI technologies, including IBM’s geospatial foundation model developed in collaboration with NASA, to climate efforts including analysis of urban heat islands in the United Arab Emirates (UAE); reforestation across Kenya; and climate resiliency in the United Kingdom (UK).

IBM continues to advance its AI model strategy in part through the creation, training, fine-tuning and open-sourcing of foundation models – models that can be used for different tasks and apply information from one situation to another – designed for domains beyond natural language, including geospatial applications.

These models, which are trained on geospatial information such as satellite images, present a unique opportunity to address climate change because unlike traditional AI models tailored for specialized tasks, geospatial foundation models – encompassing satellite and weather data – create knowledge representations from petabytes and exabytes of climate-relevant data that can facilitate accelerated and streamlined discovery of environmental insights and solutions.

These models can also be fine-tuned and applied across a multitude of areas driving or revealing climate change, from flood detection to fire scars.

“Climate change is a real and pressing issue that we must find new ways to address as quickly and efficiently as possible, including through today’s most advanced AI technologies,” said Alessandro Curioni, IBM Fellow and Vice President, Accelerated Discovery at IBM.

“AI foundation models utilizing geospatial data can be a game-changer because they allow us to better understand, prepare and address the many climate-related events effecting the health of our planet in a manner and speed never before seen.

“We are hopeful these technologies can help accelerate the rate at which we derive and apply solutions for a safer and healthier planet for future generations.”

Analyzing urban heat islands in the UAE

By the end of this century, many cities will likely experience disruptive and excessive heat waves if GHG emissions continue at high levels. To develop sustainable and equitable plans to keep cities habitable, the rising heat levels must be accurately mapped and addressed.

IBM and the Mohamed Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) are pioneering an attempt to apply foundation models to the mapping of urban heat islands – areas with significantly higher temperatures compared to surrounding locations.

This innovative research specifically applies a fine-tuned version of IBM’s geospatial foundation model to understand the urban environment in Abu Dhabi and how the underlying landscape in the UAE impacts the formation of urban heat islands.

To date, the model has informed efforts that have succeeded in a reduction of heat island effects in the region by more than 3oC (5.4 F)[1]. Going forward, the model is expected to continue to provide unique insights that inform the development of urban design strategies designed to help reduce urban heat stress in changing climates.

Professor Tim Baldwin, MBZUAI Acting Provost, said: “Our collaboration with IBM marks a groundbreaking effort to utilize foundational AI models in analyzing and identifying solutions to urban heat islands for Abu Dhabi and parts of the UAE, a region which is particularly affected by climate change.

“This research underscores the vital role of AI in tackling global issues, emphasizing the urgency of continued exploration and innovation. By harnessing the power of AI, we are not merely addressing challenges; we are proactively shaping solutions for a sustainable future.

“In a world confronted by unprecedented challenges, MBZUAI stands at the forefront of pioneering research in AI, recognizing the transformative power it holds.”

Advancing reforestation and water sustainability in Kenya

In December 2022, President of Kenya H.E. D.R William Ruto unveiled the National Tree Growing and Restoration Campaign designed to plant 15 billion trees across Kenya by 2032, including in areas of critically affected water towers – forested landscapes that retain water and source many rivers throughout Kenya. While water towers account for about three quarters of the nation’s water resources, deforestation is contributing to increasing water scarcity in these regions.

IBM and the Kenyan government’s office of the Special Envoy for Climate Change Ali Mohamed have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support the National Tree Growing and Restoration Campaign through a new “adopt-a-water-tower” initiative.

The effort will be fueled by a new digital platform that leverages IBM’s geospatial foundation model to enable users to track and visualize tree planting and tree growing activities in specific water tower areas.

Local developers can also create fine-tuned models combining the IBM geospatial model with their own localized information to monitor forest restoration and measure above-ground biomass such as sequestered carbon, ultimately mobilizing on-the-ground efforts to plant more trees across Kenya’s water tower regions.

The President’s Spokesperson, Mr. Hussein Mohamed, MBS, said: “We recognize that technology plays a pivotal role in unlocking our full potential, optimizing resource utilization, and seizing opportunities. It serves as a means to ensure that we harness our resources most effectively to drive our grassroots-driven economic transformation agenda.

“Through our partnership with IBM, we have the capability of harnessing the power of artificial intelligence and geospatial data to advance our climate ambitions.

“These ambitions include planting 15 billion trees, rejuvenating our vital water towers, fostering increased collaboration with the private sector to promote a just energy transition for communities around our forests. Simultaneously, this collaboration will enhance our capacity to equitably participate in the carbon economy.

The potential of this collaboration extends beyond our borders and has the capacity to be replicated in other nations seeking to enhance their forest cover while also improving the economic and health well-being of their communities.”

Elevating climate resiliency across the United Kingdom

In 2021, IBM and the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Hartree Centre collaborated to explore the application of next-generation technologies including AI from IBM to address climate risk and resiliency across the UK.

Now, IBM, STFC and Royal HaskoningDHV, a global consulting engineering company, have collaborated to establish a new service, leveraging IBM’s geospatial AI tools, that seeks to automate and scale climate risk assessment processes for organizations. The service’s first use case will focus on the aviation sector, in which IBM’s geospatial AI will assess impacts weather-related issues, including:

  • Short-term impact of extreme weather on aviation operations.
  • Long-term impact of climate change on future airport operations and infrastructure.

In addition, IBM and STFC Hartree Centre, through the Hartree National Centre for Digital Innovation, are advancing a new area of research with Dark Matter Labs and Lucidminds , as part of their TreesAI project. The research project will apply IBM geospatial AI technologies to their Green Urban Scenarios (GUS) model to map urban locations where trees can be planted to help alleviate the risk of surface water flooding. The effort will eventually inform an end-to-end digital planning platform for urban planners , project developers and green urban investors across the UK.

Kate Royse, Director at STFC’s Hartree Centre, said: “There has never been a more important time to prepare for the challenges posed by climate change, both from an industrial and societal perspective. Here at STFC’s Hartree Centre we’re excited to be working with IBM and Royal HaskoningDHV, using advanced AI technologies to help the aviation industry prepare for climate risks, and become more resilient against the effects of extreme weather. Equally, our collaboration with IBM and Dark Matter Labs on the TreesAI project through our HNCDI programme will enable smarter decisions based on accurately predicting and managing flood risk, which is critical to all future city planning. Advanced AI technologies are key driver in enabling us to build a more resilient world against the adverse impacts of climate change.”

Djeevan Schiferli, Climate Intelligence Business Strategist, Royal HaskoningDHV said: “Operational and strategic planners in every company require a clear understanding of how weather and climate-related incidents affect their business operations. By harnessing AI and geospatial data, we will super charge our climate risk assessments on a global scale.”

Chloe Treger, TreesAI UK Lead, said: “Over 300,000 properties are at risk of surface-water flooding. Without action, this figure is set to almost double by 2055 due to climate change and urbanisation. Through our collaboration with IBM and STFC, we have been able to observe how trees contribute to reducing surface water flooding risks across the city under different scenarios, using GUS. This has enabled us and our partners to make the business case for tree planting and maintenance. After a successful pilot in Glasgow, we are now looking for further locations to embed this powerful data-enabled decision-making tool.”

Extending NASA collaboration to apply generative AI to weather

Beyond their initial commitment to build and deploy a geospatial foundation model, IBM and NASA have also announced work on a new, separate AI foundation model for weather and climate. By applying AI technology from IBM, the model aims to improve the accuracy, speed and affordability of weather forecasting and other climate applications. Sample applications of the model not only include forecasting, but also super-resolution downscaling, identifying conditions conducive to wildfires, and predicting meteorological phenomena. IBM researchers will work alongside NASA domain experts to train and validate the model.


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Ugo Onwuaso is an ICT enthusiast. He believes technology should be used for general good. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Lagos state University. Dear Reader, Your support matters. But we believe that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. That is why, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and finance and how they affect lives. Our incisive and analytical view of how technology news affects the daily life help individuals and organizations make up their minds. Quality journalism costs money. Today, we're asking that you support us to do more. Kindly support our effort to deliver technology and finance journalism to everyone in the world. Donate as little as N1,000. Bank transfers can be made to: UBA Plc 1017156876 Communication Week Media Ltd

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9mobile Urges Subscribers to Link their NIN to Their Phone Lines to Avoid Disconnection

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Telecommunication network, 9mobile, has urged its subscribers who have not linked their SIM cards with their National Identity Number (NIN) to carry out the exercise on or before February 28, 2024, to avoid disconnection from the network.

Customers who do not comply with this directive will be unable to make or receive calls, have no access to the internet, no SMS, no One Time Password (OTP), and no bank alerts.

This was revealed by the Director, Customer Care at 9mobile, Ehimare Omoike, who said that this action was in line with the directive of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The Commission had in December 2023 directed that all telephone subscribers must have their NIN linked on their operator’s network to verify the identity of the phone users and minimize the criminal use of network services. At the moment, more than 35% of subscribers’ lines are yet to be linked to their NIN, forcing authorities to issue a deadline.

Ehimare noted that customers whose mobile lines are not linked to their NIN will be disconnected from all telecommunication service of the network. “Your line will be disconnected when you do not link your SIM to your National Identity Number (NIN).

“The implication here is that as a subscriber on 9mobile network, you will be completely shut out from access to the virtual world and you will be greatly inconvenienced.

“We therefore urge all our valued subscribers to endeavour to link their mobile lines with their NIN before February 28, 2024, to keep enjoying endless and seamless value offerings that enhance their lifestyle from 9mobile.”

He advised 9mobile subscribers to go and link their line now by visiting any 9mobile outlets for instant linking of their lines, or visit  https://9mobile.com.ng/experience-centres to check the nearest 9mobile experience centers.

It will be recalled that the compulsory registration by Nigerians of the National Identity Number (NIN) and the subsequent linkage of the NIN to their Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards is a policy by the Federal Government through the NCC to improve the integrity and transparency of the SIM registration process and consolidate the achievements of the SIM registration exercise of 2019.

The long-term goal of this initiative is to attain a widespread digital identity database and improve security in Nigeria.

The linking involves validating the NIN with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and matching the subscriber’s NIN records with the SIM registration information (verification) to ensure proper subscriber identification.

 


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Airtel Ads to Support African Businesses Achieve Effective and Enhanced Advertising Reach

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Airtel Africa has launched Airtel Ads, Africa’s first integrated Demand-Side Platform (DSP) aimed at empowering advertisers and agencies to efficiently manage, purchase, and optimize digital ad inventory across multiple ad exchanges in real-time.

Powered by Intent.ai, Airtel Ads is designed for media agencies and businesses, streamlining the process of purchasing advertising space.

This feature enables advertisers to make informed ad placement decisions by combining various tools and functionalities within a single platform and offers a comprehensive solution for digital advertising management.

The platform will leverage Airtel Africa’s extensive customer base of more than 150 million customers, utilizing data from both telecommunications services and mobile wallets.

This approach aims to not only target digitally engaged individuals but also include those traditionally excluded from the digital realm through its 2G and feature phone user base.

Additionally, through the integrated Airtel Voice Reward Ads, the platform has the capability to reach consumers on various devices.

Understanding the current limitations in ad performance for organisations, Airtel Ads aims to seamlessly merge all ad networks with Airtel Africa’s first party telecommunications data.

It will provide a unified advertising platform with precise audience segmentation, a dedicated marketing team, data analytics with post-campaign support in addition to both native language support and access to 260+ bidding parameters.

The platform, powered by ai based brand safety tools, will also accept payments in local African currencies.

Since its inception, the platform has achieved a weekly audience reach of 27 billion impressions, 23.5 million in-app daily impressions and over 200 million daily SMS notifications daily with end-of-SMS tag messaging potential.

Speaking on the launch, Airtel Africa’s Chief Commercial Officer, Anthony Shiner said: “We are excited to introduce Airtel Ads in Africa. This innovative platform will support advertisers and businesses to gain unprecedented control over their marketing campaigns, leveraging Airtel Africa’s extensive customer base and world class technology.

“Airtel Ads is a testament to our leadership in shaping the communications landscape in Africa, ensuring businesses are supported to achieve their objectives using data first tools to inform their business decisions.”


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Anambra State ICT Agency Unveils Pilot Phase of Free Public Wi-Fi Initiative in Awka

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In a monumental leap toward transforming Anambra State into a smart mega city, Governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, CFR, has reaffirmed his commitment to a technologically advanced future for the state, through the launch of the pilot phase of the Public Wi-Fi initiative tagged Solution Wi-Fi.

Driven by the Anambra State ICT Agency in collaboration with Pineheight Systems Limited (PHSWEB), this pilot phase initiative, which signposts a resounding fulfillment of promises outlined in the People’s Manifesto, marks a significant stride towards launching the state into the digital age.

As part of his visionary manifesto detailed on Pages 20 and 33, Governor Soludo pledged to “Provide cheap (and ultimately free) Wi-Fi hotspots in public places for the takeoff of the State’s emergence into the digital age” and “Work with development partners to deploy broadband access to schools across all levels and public libraries to improve access to the internet for all and continue to build the digital tribe.”

According to a statement signed by the MD/CEO of the Anambra State ICT Agency, Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata, CFA, the agency is dedicated to realizing Governor Soludo’s vision of “Everything Technology, Technology Everywhere”, adding that this pilot phase is part of the ongoing technological transformation under the Soludo Agenda.

CFA explained, “The broader vision includes collaboration with development partners to provide broadband access to schools and public libraries, thereby enhancing internet accessibility across all strata of the society.”

CFA emphasized that the Solution Wi-Fi initiative, now operational in three strategic locations in the state capital Awka namely Aroma Junction, Book Foundation, and UNIZIK Back gate, will see users within these locations enjoy one hour of free internet access, every 24 hours, during the pilot phase.

He further explained that all 3 locations are not only strategic but quite important for students and businesses alike. “The deployment of the Solution Wi-Fi to these areas will no doubt boost educational activities while businesses can also leverage it to enhance their online presence.

“High speed and free internet access can also help our teeming young population to begin to create content that will yield revenue amongst other prospects, the opportunities are endless,” CFA concluded.

To access the free Solution Wi-Fi, businesses around the designated locations and individuals, can upon activation of their Wi-Fi, and selection of “Solution Wi-Fi”, follow the SMS authentication prompt, to create a username (phone number). After which they will receive an auto-generated code via SMS. This code serves as the password, granting them one hour of fast internet access per day, with an effective range of up to 200 meters, depending on the user’s device.

This groundbreaking initiative underscores Anambra State’s unwavering commitment to technological excellence, recently acknowledged at the National Council on Communication, Innovation, and Digital Economy (NCCIDE) meeting in Kano, where the state received prestigious awards, including Overall Best State in Digital Technology Development, First Position for Best State in Digital Infrastructure Technology Development, and First Runner-up in e-government Implementation and Digital Technology Human Capital Development.

Anambra State proudly takes its place on the technology map of Nigeria, a testament to Governor Soludo’s steadfast commitment and investment in technology, and the State ICT Agency reaffirms its commitment to a future marked by technological advancement, innovation, and unparalleled progress for the state.


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