Microsoft has announced a series of initiatives to protect and preserve biodiversity and ecosystems globally and developing a Planetary Computer to aggregate environmental data with the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI) amd Machine Learning (ML).
According to Microsoft President Brad Smith, the company is entering the next phase of ‘AI for Earth’ programme, dedicated to building this Planetary Computer platform through dedicated investments in infrastructure development.
“We will provide our AI for Earth community – more than 500 grants in 81 countries – access to the world’s critical environmental datasets, and a computing platform to analyze those datasets on,” Smith said in a blog post.
The company will further invest in specific environmental solution areas like species identification, land cover mapping, and land use optimization.
“We’re starting with a new AI for Earth collaboration with the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network. This $1 million AI for Earth grant will support projects that strengthen efforts to monitor Earth’s biodiversity and create useful measurements,” he elaborated.
This Planetary Computer is incredibly complex, so Microsoft is deepening its partnership with Esri, a company that is a market leader in geographical information system software with years of experience building environmental monitoring solutions.
From mapping forest loss to combating elephant poaching, organizations depend on Esri’s tools and expertise to understand and protect the ecosystems in which they operate.
“We are deepening our partnership around the development of the machine learning-based geospatial solutions that are the foundation of the Planetary Computer,” said Smith, adding the key geospatial datasets will be available on Azure and accessible through Esri tools later this year.
While COVID-19 has upended daily life for almost all of us, sustainability issues have become no less urgent or important.
“We’re also accelerating our investments in precision agriculture, including how digital technologies like AI can help boost crop yield while reducing the impact of farming on lands and other natural resources,” announced Smith.