Microsoft is unleashing AI on environmental issues facing the planet.
The company is specifically looking at using data to solve problems in the fields of agriculture, biodiversity, climate change and water access.
The initiative, called AI for Earth, is described as a program to “empower people and organizations” to solve challenges in the environment and climate. Microsoft thinks that making AI more accessible could enable breakthroughs in sustainability that help to protect the Earth.
Microsoft has committed $2 million in the next fiscal year to facilitate this work. It will partner with individuals and organizations who have ideas for the future, offering AI tools to accelerate their projects.
Microsoft’s not going to be directly investing in companies or taking equity stakes. Instead, it wants to provide tangible resources in the form of artificial intelligence. It’s part of a wider endeavour within the company to position itself as a leading member of the AI industry. Solving sustainability challenges using AI will give Microsoft and the technology a place to demonstrate its benefits from.
Organisations involved with AI for Earth will be offered grants that enable them to access Microsoft’s Azure cloud and AI computing tools. The company will also provide education on artificial intelligence, informing project leaders of what’s available and how it works.
“Our goal is to empower others in new and more impactful ways to help create a more sustainable future,” said Microsoft. “This program expands our commitments to democratizing AI and advancing sustainability around the globe. And it builds upon our experience in accelerating the pace of innovation bringing together philanthropic work, connectivity advances and more accessible technology around the world.”
There are currently three “lighthouse” projects in AI for Earth.
- FarmBeats is a data-driven approach to farming that helps farmers improve their yield and lower costs.
- Project Premonition is tracking mosquitoes to monitor the spread of diseases.
- Land Cover Mapping is a fast land mapping system being used by an NGO to help conserve the Chesaspeake watershed.
Applications are currently open for groups looking to enrol in the program.
5 Cargill digital initiatives making food production more sustainable
How the agriculture giant is using the cloud, AI and facial recognition tech to transform the agriculture industry
Agricultural production needs to increase by 70 percent globally by 2050 in order to keep pace with population growth and shifting diets, according to the UN.
Agriculture giant Cargill is turning to digital technology to tackle this challenge.
Whether through creating predictive software to give shrimp farmers real-time insights into their operations, or applying smart weather sensor technology to row crop irrigation to help farmers cut back on water usage, Cargill is creating IoT technologies to help farmers make their processes more sustainable.
“We are trying to bring digital transformation to the industry,” Neil Wendover, an executive from the Cargill Digital Insights department, told Bloomberg.
1. Mobile Shrimp Monitoring:
Cargill’s iQuatic software is a cloud-based digital platform specifically for aquaculture that syncs with a farm operations dashboard so farmers can monitor what’s going on in their farms using data collected in real-time.
iQuatic powers Cargill’s iQShrimp app, which receives data about shrimp size, water quality, feeding patterns, and health and weather conditions from shrimp ponds by way of sensors and automatic feeders.
This data is then sent to the app that uses predictive technology to give farmers insights and recommendations on feed management strategies for the shrimp, and the best dates for harvest.
2. Connected Crop Irrigation:
Cargill is also looking to help farmers on land by using smart weather sensors and IoT technology on sprinklers connected to smartphone apps to help Nebraska beef farmers cut back on water usage in crop irrigation.
“By using smart weather sensor technology in row crop irrigation, this program could help save 2.4 billion gallons of irrigation water over three years, which is equivalent to roughly 7,200 households over that time period,” said Hannah Birge, water and agriculture program manager at The Nature Conservancy about the partnership. “The reduction of pumping also means less energy used and less labor expense for farmers.”
3.Animal Facial Recognition:
Facial recognition is big these days — even on farms.
Earlier this year, Cargill invested in Cainthus, an Irish startup that has developed facial recognition for cows. Cainthus uses artificial intelligence and imaging software to identify and monitor individual animals on a farm. The cows are monitored for what they eat and how much milk they produce in an effort to help farmers manage their herd.
The images are collected from drones, satellites, CCTV, and smart devices.
Cargill also entered a partnership with Cainthus to bring its technology to dairy farms globally.
4. Cocoa in the Cloud:
Tracking and tracing cocoa shipments has largely gone untouched by technology. To change that, big companies like Cargill started utilizing mobile applications to get a better picture of where their cocoa comes from.
Traders from the companies, local traders and partner organizations started to collect GPS coordinates of each farm and details about the farmer themselves, like if the farm is within a protected forest area.
The system keeps a record of cocoa transactions, acting as a digital ledger. All this information is stored on a cloud-based database.
Cargill also has a target to commit to sourcing “fully traceable farm-to-factory cocoa” by 2030.
5. Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator:
Last year Cargill partnered with tech startups Techstars and Ecolab to create the Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator, a “mentorship-driven” program with a goal of safer, more secure and sustainable food supply.
Participants in the accelerator are expected to be tackling problems like supply chain management, food safety, waste reduction, and traceability.
“This Accelerator allows us to invest our time and resources in technology shaping the future of agriculture, and to address some of the greatest challenges facing the food system,” said Cargill’s CIO Justin Kershaw in a Cargill press release.
The accelerator is expected to continued for three years and it recently announced the inaugural class of startups who will spend 13 weeks building their businesses.
DX Journal covers the impact of digital transformation (DX) initiatives worldwide across multiple industries.
Here’s the thing about how digital transformation will impact your business
Here’s the thing about digital transformation: Everyone knows it’s happening.
But it’s hard to know which new technology or innovation is going to be the one that upends your industry, opens up massive opportunity, threatens your company, or forever alters your role.
Today we’re introducing a new, custom-tailored service to help you figure that out. The service combines journalism, research and market analysis to help you and your team understand the state of digital transformation (DX) and explore the key developments that will impact your employees and industry.
We call this our “Here’s the thing about…” service. Teaming up with the DX Journal, we leverage journalists, analysts, researchers and strategists to help your company get a full picture of:
- What is likely to impact your industry
- Your team’s readiness to deal with it
- An in-depth look at major developments you need to pay attention to
Here’s how it works:
This service is designed to give perspective on how digital transformation will impact your company. We present our findings in an easy-to-understand format breaking down trends for multiple departments and for every skill set with documented takeaways and action items.
We uncover and share those findings in a simple, two-step process:
Step 1: Research & interview process
- Custom research on digital transformation trends impacting your industry, customers, and competitors.
- One-on-one interviews with your company’s executives, department heads or managers, employees and/or customers.
Step 2: Research presentation
- A presentation to your company in an internal keynote-style presentation to any size group — be it a small strategy team or an all-hands employee seminar.
- Our team of researchers, journalists and analysts will share the research findings, key trends in your industry and provide an overview of how well you’re set up to address challenges or embrace opportunities based on the employee interviews.
Who this service is for:
Let’s start by clarifying that digital transformation is not just an IT problem. Our clients are often leaders who are not technologists. In fact, many companies we speak with are surprised to learn how many areas of the business are impacted by DX, including marketing, HR, IT, sales, operations, legal, and others.
There’s no escaping that every area of a business is going to have to manage change that digital transformation brings. Digital transformation should not be left for the IT department alone to figure out.
With that in mind, we’ve designed this report and presentation service most commonly for executives and managers in:
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Sure, you might not have to deal with artificial intelligence in your accounting department tomorrow. Or chatbots in your HR department. Or big data solutions for your manufacturing warehouse. But how can you be sure if you don’t understand these emerging technologies? What if your competitors are? And what if they’re getting a 6-month head start?
To get started, please contact the DX Institute.
DX Journal covers the impact of digital transformation (DX) initiatives worldwide across multiple industries.
IBM backs blockchain solutions for developing Canadian cannabis industry
Canada’s soon-to-be legalized cannabis industry could create as much as $22 billion in revenue, and now provincial governments are searching for tools to deal with the newly regulated commodity.
Tech industry leader IBM sees blockchain as an ideal way to ensure transparency in the new cannabis market and to address concerns with criminal activity or fraud. IBM has suggested that Canadian officials evaluate the advantages of using blockchain to control the supply and management for the growing cannabis market.
Blockchain brings cross-industry transparency
Blockchain is a shared digital ledger that records transactions, allowing for the transparent tracking of exchanges. IBM is promoting blockchain technology as a valuable tool for a wide range of business sectors, particularly regulated industries.
The technology company partnered with banking groups such as Bank of Montreal and UBS to create a trading platform based on blockchain technology, called Batavia. IBM is also pursuing the use of blockchain to improve food supply chain safety along with a group of leading food retailers.
The pharmaceutical industry is already witnessing the benefits of blockchain’s advanced digital ledger technology. According to Pharmaceutical Technology magazine, the industry can use the new technology to ensure security, and blockchain can aid with the secure transmission of sensitive patient data and clinical information.
Tracking cannabis from plant to store sale
IBM have passed on their proposal to the government of British Columbia, according to the website Smat2Zero. The proposal outlines how blockchain can be used to track the distribution of the drug, from cultivation to point of sale.
IBM suggests that blockchain will aid and offer visibility for sourcing, selling, and pricing of products. Moreover, certified producers will be able to track inventory and supply.
The technology company submitted their proposal in response to a request for public feedback issued by the Western Canadian province.
A new kind of network
Through the use of data analytics, producers will also be able to make meaningful demand projections and review consumption trends. Moreover, everyone within the network will be able to see all of the data; real-time data collection would further allow the cannabis products to be tracked and traced at any given time point.
IBM pointed out that, “This type of transparency would bring a new level of visibility and control to the provincial regulators.”
While the potential application of blockchain to cannabis production is headline grabbing, the news adds another layer to the growing applications of blockchain to pharmaceuticals and healthcare.
The exchange of data in healthcare happens in high frequency among stakeholders, across varying platforms and technologies, creating the risk of error and vulnerability to cyberattack. Blockchain could be the key to changing that high risk exchange for the better.
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