Winning project from the 1st Open Call funded by the AI4Copernicus Project

Companies: Pixstart / Keyaid Consulting
Countries: France | Domain: Security

An interview with the winners – Richard Barre, representing the HumanityWatch project

Q: What was your motivation for creating this proposal?

A: We have started to work with humanitarian experts for 2 years now. And during our exchange with them, we better understood their business. Indeed, Humanitarian partners are operating in increasingly complex environments. Prolonged, multifaceted crises marked by volatile security conditions, rapidly growing needs and severe access constraints are today prevailing in the humanitarian sector, yet greatly challenging the effectiveness of the response. The number of humanitarian crises is rising steadily and conventional approaches to data collection and information management in the humanitarian sector are yet increasingly challenged and undermined by access constraints.

Acknowledging the potential of remote-sensing technologies for the humanitarian sector, a number of international actors have started exploring and testing possible applications. Owing to limited knowledge in space data, siloed approaches, and prohibitive costs; the uptake of the satellite technology by humanitarian partners has yet remained overall limited. The AI4Copernicus open call was launched at the right time for us and our humanitarian partner and was the opportunity to develop our idea: an operational EO Emergency service.

Q: Which is the most critical impact (societal or other) that your project could make (if you could name one) ?

A: Our objective is to provide a service for a maximum of humanitarian actors and help them improve their efficiency in helping people which are in crisis situations. We hope that thanks to emergency service, humanitarian which already do a real hard and a great job will get the necessary information, maximum up-to-date regarding the crisis situation and thanks to that provide the best support they could in the right moment and as soon as is possible. So our most critical impact will be to save more lives.

Q: Considering the recent funding received through the AI4Copernicus Open Calls, do you have any plans for further development of your idea?

A: Of course, the AI4Copernicus fund is the first brick in the building and will allow us to develop the V1 of our operational emergency service. We already are brainstorming to provide inside our service other regional and local indicators. Nowadays, we concentrate all our effort to provide a service for humanitarian experts and actors who are working over the Sahel region, but humanitarian crises have no border and the solution will have to be deployed for many specific and regional contexts. Some NGOs are already engaged in the solution development and have ordered some local analyses using our service. It’s why we want to thank all the AI4Copernicus stakeholders who have provided the financial tool to Pixstart and KeyAid Consulting allowing the start of an amazing story.

Abstract of the project: Through this project, a remote sensing company already involved in several projects of land monitoring in sub-saharan Africa (Pixstart), is partnering with KeyAid consulting, specialised in NGO support, in order to address NGO needs for knowledge of actual geophysical states surrounding villages caught by crisis (available water, refugees camps size, agriculture status and capacity, …). As NGOs need fresh data, this project is using Sentinel 1 and 2 images, combined with contextual geographical, social network and topical data, in order to edit near-real time situation reports through a SaaS application. This project will combine two types of IA, for Sentinels data will be first processed by artificial neural networks, and then combined with contextual data by expert systems. Contextual geographical data will be for example Land Cover as provided by Copernicus services, while topical and social networks data will be gathered by KeyAid intelligence consultant. This project integrates a specific effort on the data visualisation to facilitate the user adoption of the application. This latter will be challenged by one of its future customers: Solidarités International, which participates in the project as a contributor.