African data science competition platform Zindi has released the first of its machine learning solutions to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic

This map of air pollution on 2 April 2020 was generated using our model. Source Jonathan Whitaker/Zindi.

The solution, a model that can predict air pollution levels using satellite data, comes from Zindi’s virtual hackathon series #ZindiWeekendz that will run throughout April and May.

This map of air pollution on 2 April 2020 was generated using our model. Source Jonathan Whitaker/Zindi.

Using satellite data and the machine learning models developed by data scientists on Zindi, we can easily estimate air pollution levels even in places that do not have air quality sensors on the ground. This map of air pollution on 2 April 2020 was generated using our model. Source Jonathan Whitaker/Zindi.

“In a time when many university students across Africa and the world cannot attend lectures or even leave their homes, #ZindiWeekendz aims to put those passionate hearts and sharp minds to good use building innovative machine learning solutions to the problems of COVID-19,” says Celina Lee, CEO of Zindi.

During #ZindiWeekendz, data scientists build practical solutions to some of the public health and economic challenges Africa and the world face as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

Since the beginning of April, Zindi has hosted challenges to map the households in South Africa most vulnerable to COVID-19, to predict air quality from satellite imagery, and to build a model that can identify whether a person in an image is wearing a facemask. Every solution that comes out of these challenges is freely available for anyone wanting to put them to use, and Zindi will also be making its own efforts to get these models used by various organisations.

Zindi is grateful to Microsoft for sponsoring these challenges and contributing to the fight against COVID-19.

Future #ZindiWeekendz challenges will continue to explore ways that data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence can improve social, economic, and health outcomes of COVID-19. Zindi will continue to work with governments, companies, and non-profit organisations to make sure these solutions end up in the hands of those who need them most. If you’re interested in helping Zindi make a difference, you can join the next #ZindiWeekendz hackathon or suggest a relevant data set.

About Zindi and #ZindiWeekendz

Zindi is a data science competition platform that hosts a community of over 12,000 data scientists from across Africa and beyond. Sponsored by Microsoft, #ZindiWeekendz is a series of virtual hackathons running every weekend throughout the months of April and May, specifically focused on the health, social, and economic impacts of COVID-19. All solutions will be shared on GitHub and are freely available for government, academic and private sector actors to use in their battle against COVID-19.

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