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Computer-generated content for the world's neediest

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Uganda: One of the world's poorest countries. More than eighty percent of Ugandans live in rural areas like these. Many of them are subsistence farmers whose livelihoods have been made even more difficult by the effects of climate change. The vital agricultural information that could improve these farmers' lives exists in fragmented, scattered form, out of reach or resource-starved communities in Uganda and other developing nations. A few years ago, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation approached INSEAD chaired professor of Management Science, Philip Parker, with a bold challenge. "How do you take the world's fragmented scientific information "and get it in the hands of, or in the mind of, someone who's all the way across the planet, "who certainly doesn't have the same language skills?" The resulting platform, TotoGEO, is an extension of Parker's past work, creating computer algorithms capable of producing educational materials in underserved languages. "Computers don't complain. They'll work all night long. "A human being might conclude or stop at one level, "like they're looking for an answer to something, and then they stop because they have an answer. "A computer just keeps going and it might discover there's a variance of answers, "and it can get the distribution of that answer, the mean, the kurtosis, the variance, all that stuff, it can find "and then report it in common man's language." TotoGEO places a massive storehouse of aggregated, highly localized agricultural data at users' fingertips, translatable across more than a hundred languages, and downloadable in an array of digital formats. "Here's the process it was: Vetted sources going into an Automated Content Engine. "So take a bunch of sources that are all messy, not harmonized, just crappy looking, "throw them into an Automated Content Engine, "it then populates the cloud, that then redistributes to all these different people who require different formats, "who then redistribute it to the farmers. "The trick of this was that the engine should be able to "Save As" any format. "There's a 3D game we created out of this thing. "This is Xbox 360 quality, by the way, and it's actually the same data as the dashboard you just saw. "We can model a village down to its longitude and latitude, "we take elevation data from NASA, "and we literally, in 3D, we literally build the entire farm with its actual soil and climate, "and then you can play the actual farm that's there. "Everything was cross integrated so all formats were feasible "no matter what the NGO or government wanted." TotoGEO content has also powered smartphone apps that agriculture students in Uganda can take along on field visits to help farmers and gather data. Local radio stations in several African countries are using TotoGEO to generate entire programs at a fraction of the cost, complete with automated weather reports that are often the first ever to be delivered to villagers in the local language. In addition, TotoGEO is a participatory community. Integration with blog and tool WordPress, allows anyone to set up their own economic development platform in minutes. Recently, TotoGEO stakeholders from around the world gathered at INSEAD Singapore campus to strategize the next phase of the project. On the agenda, expanding TotoGEO's global network along with its technology portfolio. "TotoGEO is helping us aggregate information "and provide it in a way that has been unprecedented in the country. "We, as journalists and programmers, "have had our time for research "and the cost of researching and putting together information "cut by more than half." "This dashboard will be the biggest agricultural portal, for Bangladeshi people especially. "Rural people, extension workers, and ag-related people will benefit from this dashboard." "The networks that are being created are very encouraging "to see what was an idea two or three years ago. "Today we have certain stakeholders come to the table, "and those stakeholders are starting to understand and believe." "We have fifty-five students that went out, "and each one did interviews with about 150, "so it was 55 times 150 farmers. "It is still small, but growing. "I would like to see this nation-wide. "We want to access all the farmers in Uganda, "and then of course beyond Uganda across Sub-Saharan Africa." "Here's the big vision: "Anyone with a smartphone one day, "that happens to be in a village, "should be able to become an extension worker, "even though they weren't trained on it."

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Duration: 5 minutes and 3 seconds
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Language: English
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Posted by: totogeo on Nov 24, 2015

Computer-generated content for the world's neediest

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