QCRI Workshops Bridge Precision in Sustainable Development and AI

QCRI Workshops Bridge Precision in Sustainable Development and AI

02 Nov 2022

QCRI together with the Planning and Statistics Authority organize a workshop that reflects on the need for a data culture.

The regional workshop discussed the changing role of official statistics in Qatar
The regional workshop discussed the changing role of official statistics in Qatar

Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), part of Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), recently co-organized a regional workshop with the Planning and Statistics Authority (PSA) on The Changing Role of Official Statistics in the State of Qatar: Why Data Culture Matters.

Leveraging big data and artificial intelligence (AI) was the focus of a session organized by Dr. Muhammad Imran, Senior Scientist at Qatar Center for Artificial Intelligence (QCAI) at QCRI. Titled Precision in Sustainable Development with Artificial Intelligence (AI), presentations focused on the role of AI in monitoring and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The session was enriched by the insights of experts from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), UN International Children’s Emergency (UNICEF), and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). 

Dr. Dohyung Kim, Lead Data Scientist at UNICEF, highlighted the role of AI and high-resolution satellite imagery for accurately mapping school locations in support of UNICEF’s Giga initiative, to connect every school in the world to the internet. 

“AI has been tested to replace or supplement human efforts to gather information. AI applied to satellite imagery could successfully identify specific building types including schools. With a combination of the use of AI and human input, we can build a scalable and operational system to minimize human efforts and time [spent on] data collection and validation, and eventually develop a semi-automated system to detect objects from satellite imagery,” noted Dr. Kim.

Dr. Wafa Aboul Hosn, Chief of the Economics Statistics Section, UN-ESCWA, emphasized the need for integrating geospatial information and remote sensing data with regular official data production for disaster risk reduction and for monitoring the SDGs. AI and machine learning (ML) have a role in monitoring the global advancement toward SDGs, argued Dr. Aladdin Shamoug, Senior Advisor for Digital Transformation, UNDP.

Highlighting how AI and ML can help monitor SDGs in various data-scarce regions, Dr. Gonzalo Pizarro, Regional Advisor on SDG Integration, UNDP, said: “The evolving understanding of sustainable development is posing new challenges, increasing the level of complexity for development decision-makers. The statistical community must explore ways to respond to these demands, among other ways, by identifying how to use big data and AI/ML applications to support decision making. This must include addressing potential negative impacts of AI/ML applications.”

With a view to concluding the session, Dr. Imran said: “AI-enabled technology can be an accelerator for achieving the UN SDGs in a wide range of sectors and situations ranging from environmental impact to climate change. Different forms of AI solutions are rapidly changing how we live and work. Some examples include AI-based precision agriculture, sustainable supply chains, environmental monitoring, and enhanced disaster prediction and response. Finally, we would like to thank the Planning and Statistics Authority, particularly Dr. Saleh M Al-Nabit, President, and Dr. Ahmad Hussein, Senior Statistics Advisor, for the partnership initiative they have established with QCRI.”

To view the livestream recording of the workshop, please visit the following link.

For more information on the work at Qatar Computing Research Institute, please visit qcri.hbku.edu.qa, and on Qatar Center for Artificial Intelligence, https://qcai.qcri.org/.