" />

How Microsoft developers use ‘real life code’ to help UN monitor humanitarian crises

How Microsoft developers use ‘real life code’ to help UN monitor humanitarian crises

Microsoft developers are aiding in the mission set forth by the United Nations to monitor humanitarian crises around the world in order to establish when and where to send aid.

Microsoft developers were tasked with automating and streamlining the monitoring processes of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Libya to help reduce response time to humanitarian crises using Machine Learning, Open Source Databases, Natural Language Processing, and Microsoft Azure.

Software development engineer Anastasiia Zolochevska explained in Microsoft’s Real Life Code blog the entire process of applying the power of code to potentially save lives.

The early detection system Project Fortis (not to be confused with the Armed Forces veterans community of the same name) identified the UN’s problem of trying to manually monitor over 400 social media and public data sources, and it came up with a more automated solution.

“We built a real-time processing pipeline to monitor factors that contribute to humanitarian crises through conversations and posts from publicly and privately available data sources, including social media,” wrote Zolochevska, adding, “we implemented a system that allows users to define a set of relevant keywords, geographical areas of interest and social media feeds. We then use these parameters to extract related posts and plot them on the map, based on an NLP location feature extraction approach.”

Through a process called “geocoding,” the team was able to utilize a free service that provides worldwide basemap coverage sourced from OpenStreetMap and other open data projects called Mapzen to define an area of interest and its surrounding localities.

Once the geocoding was able to define the region of interest to monitor, the next step was to use the Microsoft Translation Service to be able to translate social media posts and other public sources coming from the targeted region. The Real Life Code article used Libya as an example region with Arabic being the language to translate, hence the need for the translation service.

After carefully aligning the region of interest, translating the public data sources and social media posts, and further pinpointing and cross-referencing the geographical coordinates using an open-source JavaScript library called Compromise, the last step for the team was to use Microsoft Azure Functions as a “hosting mechanism for the locality inference job.”

Monitoring posts across social media platforms using Azure Functions in conjunction with an Azure Event Hub allowed the team to process “a huge volume of social media posts” to help the UN mission in Libya.

The results from this type of project could potentially set a new precedence in how the UN monitors crisis zones by utilizing Machine Learning, open source databases, Natural Learning Processes, and cloud-based hosting platforms like Microsoft Azure.

Through the power of code, Microsoft and the UN are looking to save lives and prevent humanitarian crises.

View Comments (1)

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Mobile Developers Are Using Code to Help End Youth Homelessness - The Sociable

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Tim Hinchliffe is a veteran journalist whose passions include writing about how technology impacts society and Artificial Intelligence. He prefers writing in-depth, interesting features that people actually want to read. Previously, he worked as a reporter for the Ghanaian Chronicle in West Africa, and Colombia Reports in South America. tim@sociable.co

More in Technology

trucking freight

The old world of freight is fleeting: 4 new advancements in the trucking industry

Ben AllenOctober 18, 2017
digital ownership

Digital ownership issues at the intersection of art and technology

Zac LavalOctober 18, 2017

Overview: can democracy keep up with AI development?

Ben AllenOctober 17, 2017
humanoid robots

ZoraBots launches humanoid robots powered by IBM’s Watson to help children, elderly

Omar ElorfalyOctober 16, 2017
accelerator latin america

Rockstart accelerator launches its 1st program in Latin America

Jess RappOctober 16, 2017
latin america tech publication

Fiesta! Latin America’s geekiest tech publication turns 5

Tim HinchliffeOctober 13, 2017
startup ecosystem hungary

Startup ecosystem spotlight on Hungary from past, present, and future

Craig CorbettOctober 13, 2017
personal data use

Agreed personal data use and its disagreeable trend

Ben AllenOctober 11, 2017

Google gets a head start on new age of communication technologies

Omar ElorfalyOctober 9, 2017