UN taps AI power for sustainable development goal

Floods, wildfires and other climate-related disasters have major impact on countries around the world, including several in the Asia-Pacific region. With a little help from AI, the United Nations Satellite Centre (Unosat) hopes to improve global well-being by fostering climate action and sustainable cities and communities as part of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It is working with NVIDIA to apply deep learning and AI to boost climate-related disaster management for Earth Observation.

Unosat’s satellite imagery technology infrastructure will be integrated with NVIDIA’s accelerated computing platform. The AI-powered satellite imagery system will collect and analyse geospatial information to provide near-real-time insights about floods, wildfires and other climate-related disasters.

“Working with NVIDIA will enable us to close the loop from AI research to implementation of climate solutions in the shortest time possible, ensuring that vulnerable populations can benefit from the technology,” said Einar Bjørgo, Director of Unosat.

According to Unosat, NVIDIA technology speeds up AI-based flood detection by 7x, covering larger areas with greater accuracy.

To develop AI expertise, the agency has launched an educational module that builds upon an NVIDIA Deep Learning Institute (DLI) course on applying deep learning methods to generate accurate flood detection models. The free online course covers how to build a deep learning model to automate the detection of flood events. More climate-action-related courses are in the pipeline.

“We aim to democratise access to accelerated computing to help nations train more accurate deep learning models that better predict and respond to a full spectrum of humanitarian and natural disasters,” said Keith Strier, Vice President of Global AI Initiatives at NVIDIA.