Sunday, 27 June 2021 17:54

SAS AI-powered deforestation detection app recognised as world-changing

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Analytics software and solutions company SAS received was honourably mentioned in the Fast Company World Changing Ideas Awards for its joint project with the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis tracking the human impact in the Amazon rainforest. It is one of many social innovation projects from SAS employees inspired to apply data to solve pressing humanitarian issues.

The honour came on World Rainforest Day last week, under the AI and Data category of the Fast Company World Changing Ideas Awards. The awards honour businesses, policies, projects and concepts which actively and deeply pursue innovations in the realm of health and climate crises, social injustice, or economic inequality.

SAS was also recognised in the Environmental Stewardship category of the PRNEWS CSR and Diversity Awards that honour communicators using their platforms for the betterment of their own community as well as the global community.

The Amazon is the largest rainforest on earth and houses 10% of the world's biodiversity. However, 800 square kilometres is destroyed every month.

SAS and the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) jointly built an AI platform to analyse satellite images of the Amazon which showed the location and magnitude of forest damage. Data scientists reviewed the images to train AI models, with users classifying if there were signs of human impact. Together, this work created a model that accurately and swiftly identifies the impact to humans from ongoing deforestation - with a view to predicting future impact.

The project launched on Earth Day 2020, with more images added as the year progressed. Over 919,000 square kilometres of the Amazon have now been classified by citizen scientists from 119 countries.

SAS continues to work on this important issue and has recently joined forces with Amazon Conservation to expand efforts for developing AI algorithms to expedite the identifying, tracking and intervention of illegal deforestation.

By showing the predictive model is accurate in identifying areas most at risk of future deforestation the researchers hope Governments and forest monitoring bodies will carefully track and respond to the changing forest.

SAS explains the technology and processes behind its app, online.

Image credit: "Amazon Rainforest" by CIFOR is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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