RTI International, a nonprofit research institute, and IBM Research – Africa announced a partnership to deploy big data analytics and cognitive technologies to transform development approaches in Africa and around the world.
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In one of the first projects, IBM and RTI are developing and testing intelligent systems to capture data about schools in Mombasa County, Kenya.
Through the partnership, RTI and IBM Research – Africa will explore ways of using advanced technologies to capture accurate data about challenges in areas such as healthcare, agriculture, water and education.
Drawing on the power of big data analytics, researchers will provide insight to governments, aid agencies and other organizations who are looking to make more informed decisions about investment and development while having greater visibility of results.
"A dearth of data on Africa in the past has led to misunderstandings or misrepresentations of the continent's history, economic performance and potential. Over the past few decades, even simple facts have been misrepresented - the size of a country, its economic performance, the amount of poor people, the volume of exploitable resources," said Dr. Kamal Bhattacharya, vice president of IBM Research – Africa.
"The latest advances in mobile, big data and Internet of Things technologies have the potential to change that so that we have an accurate and dynamic understanding of Africa's challenges, rising opportunities and incredible potential."
The partnership comes as a rapid rise in mobile and Internet of Things technologies are producing unprecedented amounts of data.
In developing countries, mobile phones, digital devices and low-cost sensors connected to improving cellular networks are reaching previously disconnected communities with the potential to produce new insight about how people live and the challenges they face.
"Rapid advancements in technology and open data initiatives mean more data is available now than ever before, offering significantly greater insights to improve lives through smarter development programs," said Aaron Williams, executive vice president at RTI.
"By combining our expertise in data science and development, RTI and IBM will apply the information newly at our fingertips to accelerate improvements in literacy, respond rapidly to the spread of infectious diseases, and discover and apply new innovations for improving the human condition in the developing world." ■