October 2nd, 2020
"AI for good" - dida wins international "Microsoft AI for Earth" award for regulation of informal gold mining
dida has won the internationally renowned "Microsoft AI for Earth" prize worth USD 100,000 (link). In the competition, in which solutions for regulating informal small-scale mining were awarded prizes by the American organization Conservation X Labs, dida prevailed with its ASMSpotter software against more than 100 companies from 40 different countries.
Informal small-scale mining provides the livelihood for more than 100 million people and is of great importance for the global supply of raw materials. Due to the lack of opportunities for large-scale monitoring and effective controls, however, informal mining often goes hand in hand with major damages to nature and the population. This is where ASMSpotter comes in.
ASMSpotter uses AI algorithms to analyze satellite images from the European satellite Sentinel-2 of the European Space Agency ESA from the Copernicus program and from Planet, a commercial provider of satellite images, and automatically identifies informal mining sites and makes changes to the last satellite image visible. The software was developed in the context of a grant from the European Space Agency.
In the course of the project, Levin Sources, a UK partner, was acquired to help governments implement programs to formalize small-scale mining so that the solution is not misused and is implemented effectively.
Robert Heesen, Director Product at dida: "We feel very honored to be recognized by such an outstanding jury and by Microsoft. With ASMSpotter we want to show that AI can make a positive contribution to the big problems of mankind. ASMSpotter helps to minimize environmental destruction and improve the working conditions of the local population. Until now local authorities lack solutions for automatic, large-scale monitoring of mining activities. Governments using our solution can regulate the sector much better because you can detect changes and act early. Together with our partner Levin Sources, we ensure that the solution is not misused and can develop its full potential.
According to Heesen, the next steps will be the introduction of the solution in Ghana, together with the Ministry of Mining in Ghana and the partner Levin Sources. In addition, dida would also like to make the solution available for other raw materials such as cobalt or building materials such as gravel. Heesen: "Technically speaking, the AI solution is well scalable to other countries and raw materials. Now we are looking for partners who will work with us to ensure that the solution is used responsibly and effectively".
dida is an AI company specializing in the development of computer vision applications, i.e. the automatic analysis of image files. dida is headquartered in Berlin and has twenty employees, fifteen of whom work in the development of AI applications.
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Fig. 1: Satellite image © dida
Fig. 2: ASMSpotter predictions © dida
Fig. 3: Changes to previous observation © dida