The National Geographic Society and Microsoft’s AI for Earth program are partnering to support novel projects that create and deploy AI tools to improve the way they monitor, model, understand, and ultimately manage Earth’s natural resources for a more sustainable future.
The grants given by the partnership will support projects that use cloud computing to create and deploy open-source models and algorithms that make key analytical processes more efficient in the field. This partnership is focused on supporting projects that will build tools such as applications, application programming interfaces (APIs), or packages to be shared. Microsoft will help the successful applicants make their models and tools available for use by other environmental researchers and innovators.
To address the many pressing scientific questions and challenges facing our planet, we must increase global understanding of how human activity is affecting natural systems and create a community of change, driven by data and cutting-edge technology. Modern technologies, such as satellite imaging, bioacoustic monitoring, environmental DNA, and genomics, can capture data at a global scale, but also produce massive, complex data sets. Artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing can capitalize on the potential of such data, leading to faster and more meaningful insights and creating the opportunity for transformative solutions.
Projects will be evaluated and prioritized on the following:
- Justification and importance of the proposed focus area
- Justification of the need for cloud computing
- Likelihood of the model or tool to scale and create lasting impact
Extreme weather events, wildlife trafficking, rising sea levels, increased agricultural and urban development demands, higher global temperatures, and increased ocean acidity are among the threats to the natural systems and biodiversity they rely on. Proposed work should address one or more of the topics below and create generalizable, scalable tools that can be used by other environmental researchers and conservationists:
- Biodiversity: Biodiversity around the world is rapidly declining. AI can help them understand and address challenges such as these:
- Human-wildlife conflict
- Invasive species introduction and spread
- Habitat loss, including agricultural and urban encroachment
- Species discovery, identification, and distribution
- Wildlife poaching and trafficking
- Climate Change: Countries and communities around the world are engaged in climate resilience, adaptation, and mitigation efforts. AI can help in areas such as these:
- Understanding and quantifying carbon sequestration
- Monitoring and understanding afforestation/reforestation efforts
- Identifying fire risks and ways to mitigate damage
- Extreme weather and climate modeling
- Sustainable land-use change
- Resilience to impacts caused by extreme events (e.g., droughts, floods, other natural disasters)
- Applicants may request $5,000 to $100,000.
- The budgets of successful proposals will include reasonable, well-justified costs directly required to complete the project.
All models supported through this grant must be open source, and grant recipients must be willing to publicly share both the underlying data and their developed solutions—including, for example, applications, APIs, and Python/R packages—for use by other environmental researchers.
For more information, visit AI for Earth Innovation Program.