Microsoft has announced grants to seven recipients from India under AI for Earth, its worldwide program aimed at empowering people and organizations to solve global environmental challenges through the power of AI. These grantees will receive access to Microsoft Azure and AI computing resources; in-depth education and technology trainings on these tools and additional support as the projects grow and mature. India now has the third largest concentration of AI for Earth grantees, following the United States and Canada.
Commenting on the program, Lucas Joppa, Chief Environmental Officer, Microsoft Corporation and Lead for Microsoft AI for Earth, said, “In every country around the world, we are facing unprecedented environmental challenges, impacting the ability to access water, grow healthy crops and protect biodiversity. At Microsoft, we’ve found that one thing was accelerating as quickly as the degradation of our planet’s natural resources, and that is technology. Through AI for Earth, we’re making sure that innovative environmental researchers, like the seven here in India, are empowered with Microsoft’s AI in the pursuit of creating a more sustainable future for us all.”
The grantees from India, chosen based on their efforts to conserve, protect and rebuild the environment with AI, are:
- India Institute of Technology – together with the Technical University of Munich, the India Institute of Technology is designing a low-cost tool for monitoring plant health in resource-limited regions. Used directly in the field by farmers, the device will automate the process of disease diagnosis through image analysis on the Azure platform.
- International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Hyderabad – ICRISAT is using AI, cognitive services, and cloud computing to enhance pest forecasting and prediction models and farm advisory services to enable sustainable agriculture production in developing parts of the world.
- Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE), Bengaluru – ATREE is developing an AI-enabled tool to document and quantitatively assess the abundant habitats and rich biological resources of North-East India.
- Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology Delhi – is working on an intelligent tool for identifying and locating monkeys in human habitats, helping researchers implement more effective population control.
- Symbiosis Institute of Technology (Smart Meter Data Analytics), Pune – is using both smart meter and socio-economic data to develop an AI-enabled prototype for smart meter data analytics—helping improve energy management for utilities and consumers.
- India Institute of Science, Bangalore – is developing a scalable solution using data analytics and machine learning under its Eqwater project to ensure equitable water distribution in India’s large cities.
- Symbiosis Institute of Technology, Pune – is developing Smart Environment Information and Management System (SEIMANS) to monitor and predict water, air and soil conditions for a variety of smart city applications, such as utilities and environmental monitoring.
According to Keshav Dhakad, Group Head and Assistant General Counsel – CELA, Microsoft India, “At Microsoft, we believe AI for Earth will be a force multiplier for groups and individuals like these who are creating solutions for a more sustainable future for us all. Today’s announcement represents an expansion of Microsoft’s commitment to and investment in democratizing AI and advancing sustainability in the country. We congratulate the recipients and are excited by the potential for advances in AI and sustainability that will benefit India and the world.”
AI for Earth is a $50 million, 5-year commitment from Microsoft to put AI at work for the future of the planet. Launched in July 2017, its focus areas are climate change, agriculture, biodiversity and water. In just a year, AI for Earth has grown from 20 grantees to 147 from across more than 40 countries, with $1.1M of Azure credits awarded to date.