Facebook Utilizes AI
Facebook is currently creating AI based map system on a truly massive scale. The social networking site is releasing new, detailed population density maps that cover the "majority" of Africa, helping relief agencies know where to go when providing aid. It will be releasing its maps free of charge for anyone to use in the coming months, and it notes that data like this is a godsend for disaster relief and vaccination charities. Population density maps help teams with limited resources target the areas where they can be most effective, and their data has already been used for these benefits by several international charities.
The technique is similar to what Facebook has used before, but tweaks to the formula kept the accuracy high even across Africa's 16 million square miles.
As Facebook explains, creating maps like this is a challenging job for humans. Although Facebook have high-resolution satellite imagery that covers pretty much every corner of the globe, turning this into useful information is a time-consuming process. To create population density maps data engineers have to label each building in the images and then cross-reference this with census data provided by the government. This is particularly tricky in the African continent where census tracts can cover massive amount of area with minimal population.
Facebook says its new machine learning systems are quicker and more accurate than those it announced in 2016. To map the African continent, its programs crunched through some 11.5 billion 64 x 64-pixel images. They verified the work with help from researchers from the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia University.