Makerere wins part of $25m Google grant

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Google has announced that Makerere University’s AirQo project in the College of Computing and Information Sciences as one of the 20 projects across the globe and the only from Africa that will share USD 25 million in grants from the tech giant.  

Over 2600 organisations applied and Makerere AirQo project won a grant from as part of Google AI Impact Challenge.

“We are receiving funding, AI expertise and resources to monitor, analyse, raise awareness and develop solutions to air quality issues,” the university said.

Google.org issued an open call to organizations around the world to submit their ideas for how they could use AI to help address societal challenges.

It received applications from 119 countries, spanning 6 continents with projects ranging from environmental to humanitarian. From these applications, google selected 20 organizations to support.

Makerere University

Air pollution is a major contributor to poor health and mortality in developing countries.

Tracking spatial and temporal pollution patterns is essential to combating it, but can be difficult in low-resource environments.

Researchers from Makerere University will apply AI to data from low-cost air sensors installed on motorcycle taxis and other locations around Kampala to help improve air quality monitoring and forecasting and inform future interventions.

An Artificial Intelligent (AI)-powered project from Makerere University (Mak) named AirQo is the only initiative from Africa that made the mark.

AirQo which leverages AI to monitor quality air and analyses atmospheric changes, will get a $1.3m (about Shs4.9bn) grant.

The 20 organizations that have qualified for the fund will next week travel to San Francisco where they will join Google Al experts, project managers and the start-up specialists from Google’s Launchpad Accelerator for a program that will last six months, from May to November 2019.

Google.org president, Jacqueline Fuller said: “At Google, we have seen how Al can help us accomplish daily tasks and travels, and we believe in its potential to help address some of the world’s biggest humanitarian challenges. We are excited to support Makerere University’s AirQo project work to use Alto achieve even greater social impact.”

Makerere Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, could not contain his excitement: “I congratulate the AirQo project team led by Dr. Engineer Bainomugisha upon receiving the Google.org grant to scale up this air quality monitoring innovation. Our population as a country is rapidly increasing and as such additional pressure is being exerted on our cities.”

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