September 14, 2017
A year and a half after it was prototyped, the radio content analysis tool developed by Pulse Lab Kampala and partners has become fully operational. The findings and lessons learned during the process were compiled in a report entitled: “Using Machine Learning to Analyse Radio Content in Uganda - Opportunities for Sustainable Development and Humanitarian Action.” The recent Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Good Global Summit has brought together partners to define a roadmap for governments, industry, academia, media, and civil society to develop AI in a safe, responsible and ethical manner benefiting all segments of society. At the summit, the radio content analysis tool was showcased as one of the applications of AI currently in use at the UN. The tool was designed to leverage public radio content as a source of information to inform on issues relevant to sustainable development. The most complex part in the development of the prototype is capturing the transcription of spoken words into written text. This technology, called speech recognition, is used in applications ranging from simple voice dialing (e.g. "Call home") to fully automatic speech-to-text processing where every word is being converted into text (e.g. dictation to a document or email). The world’s largest IT companies, including Apple, Google, Microsoft and IBM, invest significant resources in speech recognition for their products. There are also companies that specialise in speech recognition as Nuance Communications (Apple’s supplier) or HTK. This type of companies offer automatic speech-to-text dictation in about 50 languages, but languages and dialects from the African continent are not available among them. The radio content analysis tool was developed as part of a project conducted by Pulse Lab Kampala in collaboration with the Stellenbosch University in South Africa. The tool works by converting public discussions that take place on radio in various African languages into text. Once converted, the text can be searched for topics of interest. The tool is now fully functional in the Northern and Central regions of Uganda and available for three languages: Luganda, Acholi and English (as spoken in the country). The report outlines the methodology and processes of the radio content analysis tool, distills the technology behind its creation and presents the lessons learned along the way. It also details the results of several pilot studies that were conducted together with partners from the Government, UN agencies and academia to understand the validity and value of unfiltered public radio discussions for development. The hope is that the processes and lessons detailed in the report can serve as examples and inspiration for using radio talk and data analytics to inform decision-making processes in development and humanitarian scenarios, in contexts where other sources of data may be missing or insufficient. Using Machine Learning to Analyse Radio Content in Uganda from Global Pulse Uganda’s population is the youngest in the world, with 77% of its population being under 30 years of age. The country is now gaining international recognition for the development of Artificial Intelligence products by its youth.Listen to insights from the young Ugandans working at Pulse Lab Kampala on the development of the radio content analysis tool. Cross-posted from the United Nations Global Pulse Blog.
BY Kanako Mabuchi | August 10, 2016
“Ordinary Zimbabweans must own the Sustainable Development Goals. They are our SDGs!”, the Speaker of the National Assembly closed with these inspiring words a half-day dialogue on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recently organized by the UN in Zimbabwe. The Speaker feels that Zimbabwe’s Parliamentarians have a critical role to play in ensuring that no one is left behind in the country’s progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda. Through the Zimbabwe UN Development Assistance Framework (ZUNDAF) 2016-2020, we at the UN in Zimbabwe are supporting the Parliamentarians to fulfil their roles and responsibilities as representatives of the People; as legislators; and, as overseers of the Government’s national and international commitments. A total of 195 Parliamentarians participated in the dialogue which was organized, for a change, in a bit of a new way: We moved away from “death by PowerPoint” methodology adopting a “talk show” format of pre-identified questions and answers. We started with a one-minute global video on the SDGs, to ensure that the spirit of the unprecedented Agenda 2030 filled the room – ensuring also that all participants were familiar with the 17 SDGs. The Government presented its SDG Position Paper which initially prioritizes 10 out of the 17 SDGs and firmly positions them within Zimbabwe’s national development plan. Each head of agency represented their respective UN thematic result group under the UN strategic plan. This positioned the UN as a team rather than a collection of individual agencies. However, but perhaps unsurprisingly, the real game-changing moment came during the open discussion. The ball is in our court During an extensive question-and-answer session between the Parliamentarians and the UN, a number of Parliamentarians started advocating for UN’s support for their respective constituencies. This sparked the Speaker of the National Assembly to intervene with an inspirational speech to shake up the Parliamentarians, reminding them of the responsibility of the Parliament to make the Government accountable to the People. Taking everyone by surprise, he emphasised that it is the Parliament’s responsibility as legislators to vote on proposed laws using the barometer of whether they are transformative for the lives of Zimbabweans. It is their responsibility to approve and allocate resources in a manner conducive to achieve the SDGs and; it is their responsibility to translate the SDGs for social change. When the Speaker of the National Assembly declared “The ball is in our court,” there was a renewed sense of urgency for action to take the SDGs back to their constituents where the ownership lies. The Parliamentarians decided to establish a parliamentary committee on the SDGs to take the global goals implementation forward, led by the Speaker of the National Assembly himself. By the end of the half-day dialogue, Parliamentarians embraced that they are key to reaching the Zimbabweans who are hardest to reach, to be the voice of the voiceless. From our side at the UN, with SDGs as a common playing field, we are here to support the Government through our common strategic plan. Stay tuned for the continued volley!