International Experts Gather for QCRI-UNDP Workshop

International Experts Gather for QCRI-UNDP Workshop

29 Jun 2022

International experts gather at HBKU to discuss mobilizing new data sources for social good

The workshop helped to advance collective intelligence for sustainable development

The Social Computing Group at Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), part of Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), brought together development organizations and leading minds in data science from around the world for the Artificial Intelligence for Collective Intelligence (AI4CI) workshop from June 12-14. AI4CI was jointly organized with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Accelerator Labs and UNDP Innovation in the Arab States. 

The workshop aimed to advance the UNDP’s efforts to leverage Collective Intelligence (CI) for sustainable development, under the theme ‘Getting Smarter Together for People and Planet’. CI emerges when the data and insights of large, diverse groups of people are mobilized, often with the help of technology.

CI methods, such as crowdsourcing, citizen reporting, remote sensing, and increasingly AI, all offer new or uncommon data sources for research and analysis. By diversifying the ways in which development problems are understood, the data can reveal new insights, even potentially marking a move towards real-time intelligence on issues such as pollution.

QCRI’s lead role hosting the AI4CI workshop stemmed from a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with the UNDP in 2019, which formalized their long-standing collaboration. The focus of cooperation is the UNDP’s Accelerator Labs initiative. The joint venture between the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany and Qatar Development Fund aims to build a learning network around development challenges and supports 115 countries. 

The workshop program focused on strengthening the capabilities of UNDP Accelerator Labs to apply AI/data science to development challenges at national levels. Presentations considered the latest practices in ‘AI for Social Good’ while ‘Matchmaking’ workshops connected the challenges with solution holders to explore new data-driven approaches and collaborations. A hands-on ‘data innovation clinic’ focused on data tools such as Google Earth Engine for development work. 

After the workshop, Dr. Ingmar Weber, Research Director for Social Computing at QCRI, said: “Collective intelligence methods are evolving alongside digital technologies and new tools are now available to leverage actionable and collective intelligence. For QCRI, and all participants at AI4CI, it was an opportunity to exchange the latest research and technologies we are developing as individual institutions, but also how best to strengthen the partnerships that can help governments and development agencies such as the UNDP to tackle complex issues.” 

Gina Lucarelli, Team Leader at the UNDP, added: “The AI4CI workshop was a great opportunity to engage and collaborate to advance artificial intelligence to get smarter together for people and the planet. We thank HBKU’s QCRI for hosting this event, especially Dr. Weber for developing the program. It has encouraged valuable exchanges on innovations that will help us catch up with the speed of sustainable development change. We look forward to deepening our partnership with QCRI on AI and thank the Qatar Fund for Development as a founding investor of the UNDP Accelerator Lab Network.”