REQUESTS FOR PROPOSALS | AI for Earth Innovation | National Geographic Society

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Artificial intelligence tools for a more sustainable planet

To address the many pressing scientific questions and environmental challenges facing our planet, we must increase global understanding of how human activity is affecting natural systems and create a community of change, driven by data and cutting-edge technology. Modern technologies, such as satellite and remote imaging, bioacoustic monitoring, and genomics, have led to massive and more complex data sets. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can capitalize on the information potential of such data, leading to faster and more meaningful insights and creating the potential for transformative solutions.

The National Geographic Society and Microsoft’s AI for Earth program are partnering to support novel projects that create and deploy AI tools to improve the way we monitor, model, and ultimately manage Earth’s natural systems for a more sustainable future.

The grants given by the partnership will support projects that create and deploy open source trained models and algorithms that make key analytical processes more efficient in the environmental field. As an additional opportunity, Microsoft will help the successful proposals make the completed models available for use by other environmental researchers and innovators.

Extreme weather events, rising sea levels, higher global temperatures, and increased ocean acidity threaten human health, infrastructure, and the natural systems we rely on for life itself. Proposed work should create generalizable, scalable tools that use AI for conservation in at least one of the following core areas:

Climate change: Countries and communities around the world are engaged in climate resilience, adaptation, and mitigation efforts. AI can help in areas such as:

  • Extreme weather and climate modeling

  • Sustainable land-use change
  • Ecosystem services (including carbon sequestration and afforestation/reforestation)
  • Resilience to extreme-event impacts (droughts, floods, disasters, etc.)

Agriculture: Agriculture must transition to a more sustainable model with lower environmental impact. AI can help in areas such as:

  • Land-use planning and management
  • Precision agriculture
  • Natural resource conservation
  • Sustainable supply chains
  • Climate-resilient agriculture
  • Water efficiency and management

Water: Management of the world’s freshwater supply needs to anticipate climate change impacts as well as increasing demand. AI can help in areas such as:

  • Extreme-event impacts on water supply (droughts, floods, disasters, etc.)
  • Water supply (including catchment control)
  • Water quality and sanitation

To strengthen your proposal, consider aligning your project with a research group. For example, pair an expert capable of creating and deploying an open source trained model or algorithm with an environmental research specialist using this model or algorithm to address a pressing environmental question.

Grant Resources:

Proposals may request $5,000 to $100,000. The budgets of successful proposals will include reasonable, well-justified costs directly required to complete the project. Please see the Preparing Your Proposal page regarding budgetary guidance, including stipend eligibility, and justify all budget requests in detail. Successful applicants may use awarded funds over one year.

In addition to financial support, successful proposals will receive free access to AI for Earth APIs, applications, tools, and tutorials, and support for their computational work on Microsoft Azure.

Project Requirements:

All models supported through this grant must be open source, and grant recipients must be willing to publicly share their models for use by other environmental researchers and their data for use by the National Geographic Society.

Dateline for submission: 8 July 2019

Source: The National Geographic Society

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