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UNESCO – Viva Technology Challenge 2020

UNESCO – Viva Technology Challenge 2020

Deadline: 22 April 2020

To commemorate its fifth anniversary, Vivatech is proud to contribute to helping UNESCO solve three of its biggest challenges.

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This international event is a gathering of the world’s brightest minds, talents, and products and is a celebration of today’s innovations and tomorrow’s possibilities for everyone who believes in the power of technology to transform business and society! VivaTech is dedicated to the growth of startups, hosting more than 13 000 of them and enable them to present their innovation on the market.

Challenges

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Challenge 1: Climate Change & Risk Mitigation– Fight climate change and reduce the risk of natural hazards
Intense climate-related induced disasters, including floods, storms, droughts, and heat waves—have been on the rise worldwide. In the last four decades, the frequency of natural hazards has increased almost three-fold. The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 1.62 degrees fahrenheit since the late 19th century, with most of the warming occurring in the past 35 years.
Climate change, urban pressure and lack of disaster preparedness, are increasingly transforming natural hazards into global crises. UNESCO assists countries to build their capacities in managing disaster and climate risk through building resilient communities. Notably, UNESCO supports its 193 Member States in developing early warning systems, risk governance, nature-based solutions, post-disaster response, and critical infrastructure. The Organization is particularly committed to developing solutions in Africa and small island developing states, and in regions with vulnerable populations where the risk of natural hazards is particularly elevated.
Context
Developing and deploying solutions for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation around the globe is at the heart of UNESCO’s mandate.
Need
With more than 50 field Offices worldwide, UNESCO is looking for game-changing technological solutions to mitigate climate change and reduce the risk of natural hazards to be deployed as part of the Organization’s ongoing work in this domain.
Examples
Risk assessment on both urban scale and individual building:
Due to the lack of census data and resources (both human and budgetary), urban areas with high risk of natural hazards struggle to understand the risks both in terms of human life and technical infrastructure. Satellite, drones and sensor information could contribute to developing automated infrastructure inventory using AI’s image recognition tool. Using sample data of building/infrastructure vulnerability and images, urban risk assessments could be done automatically. This would help rapidly urbanizing areas to identify risks and take necessary measures.
Spot by spot guidance for evacuation:
Even if there is a good weather forecasting system, authorities and populations are still not sure when they need to issue alerts and evacuate. Using AI to analyse the past data of rainfall and water level, and combining the real time data of rainfall and water levels and rainfall runoff (discharge data) to ensure early warnings related to floods and droughts are provided to communities. Flood hazards could be forecasted efficiently and evacuation guidance circulated.
Rapid recovery of lifelines:
After natural hazards, it is crucial to ensure that essential infrastructure such as electricity, communication, water/sewage, gas and transportation are recovered to stabilize citizens’ lives and economic activities. However, these lifelines are interconnected in complicated networks. AI-based solutions could support the effective recovery of infrastructure.
Challenge 2: Fight against disinformation- Fight disinformation to promote informed democracies.
Free flow of information is the engine of development in the 20th and 21st century. This is fueled by independent and professional news media that act as a trusted guardian of public interest. But recent developments have put journalism under fire. A range of factors is transforming the communications landscape, decreasing trust in quality journalism. At the same time, orchestrated campaigns are spreading nonfactual and non-verified information that are often unwittingly shared on social media, and called “fake news” – or more accurately referred to as disinformation, mal-information and misinformation. UNESCO is the specialized United Nations agency with a mandate to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image and is committed to ensuring the promotion of professional and independent journalism as well as media and information literacy so that people around the world can understand, and access, quality information.
Context
Disinformation refers to false information created deliberately to harm a person, social group, organisation or country. Oftentimes during electoral periods, disinformation is propagated at a high rate. The growing threat that hate speech, disinformation and misinformation pose to societies can greatly obstruct the progression towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
Need
UNESCO is looking for game-changing technologic solutions that can effectively support the fundamental role of professional and trusted journalism, and/or assist in fact-checking and verifying news to ensure transparency in the media coverage of electoral processes. This work will contribute to UNESCO’s ongoing efforts to promote freedom of expression, access to information, and media and information literacy.
Examples
Aggregated fact checking APP – due to the “information crisis” affecting several key aspects of human life, including, but not limited to, health issues and elections, a series of fact checking initiatives were developed in many different parts of the world. Yet, these mechanisms aren’t enough to cope with the size of the challenge, therefore any AI/machine learning solutions that can aggregate the lessons learnt from these existing mechanisms and generate a new solution that can be adapted and used by journalists and fact checkers worldwide would be ground-breaking.
Increasing transparency and accountability of political advertisements: An AI-powered application to automatically generate political party advert repositories in times of elections that allow users to check whether the adverts they have seen are real or not.
Avoiding deep-fake content: The newest challenge regarding the potential impact of fake news/disinformation for democracy is the use of technology that can generate deep fake content. The use of AI techniques that can assist the public to fight deep fake content would be an important contribution in the process of countering disinformation.
Challenge 3: Digitalization of World Heritage- Protect the world’s cultural heritage.
There are some places around the world that speak to all. They truly are the world’s heritage, with cultural tourism now one of the fastest-growing global tourism markets. And when the worst happens – from the deliberate destruction of Afghanistan’s famed Buddhas of Bamiyan in 2001 to the fires that swept through the National Museum of Brazil in 2018 and Notre-Dame Cathedral in 2019 – the whole world comes together in grief.
These magical sites are attracting more and more visitors, while at the same facing increasing challenges, including violent conflict, natural disasters, human activity and climate change. Digital technologies could be game-changers in allowing to explore them in new ways, to preserve them and even bring them back to life. Achieving this, however, will require the collective efforts of all.
Context
UNESCO is gathering global leaders and startups in digital technologies and heritage to take part in an unprecedented initiative:the world’s cultural and natural heritage, preserved and made accessible for the first time through an interactive online platform. A preview version of the platform will be presented to the world at the Expo 2020 Dubai, before an official launch in late 2021.
The platform will bring together high-quality spatial and three-dimensional data and maps, along with vibrant and immersive contextual content to tell the story of each site and the rich living culture that surrounds it. It will be both an educational and experience-driven tool for the general public and an unparalleled resource for experts, academics and governments. Through this, it will:
Ensure the digital preservation of heritage sites in the event of damage or destruction;
Promote effective management and safeguarding practices through research and international cooperation and networking;
Create a new visitor experience for people across the world and increase the appeal of heritage sites;
Raise awareness among the general public about the need to preserve heritage;
Shine a light on living cultural expressions and practices, helping to safeguard them and ensure their transmission to future generations.
Need
In order to able to achieve this ambitious undertaking, UNESCO is looking for creative new solutions based upon emerging technologies to:
Facilitate the collection and/or processing of data from potentially hundreds of sites worldwide (e.g. laser-scanning, 3D modelling, photogrammetry, satellite & GIS data, contextual video & audio, crowdsourcing).
Develop creative ways of presenting this data and making it accessible to experts and researchers and/or the general public through unique visitor experiences (e.g. data visualization, platforms, applications, virtual environments). These solutions could either complement or be integrated into the platform being developed by UNESCO.
Entries can focus on one or both of the above needs.
Winners per category will be selected by the Jury on May 15th and confirmed before the award ceremony on June 12th.

Rewards

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Presence on stage at VivaTech
5 free Startup passes for the 3 days of VivaTech
A startup booth at VivaTech 2021
Mentoring growth program with senior executives from Vivatech partners
A private meeting with high-level jury
Be highlighted at the UNESCO annual conference
Be featured on the UNESCO website and its official communications
Be highlighted by all media partners
Selection Criteria

The founder must be under 35 yo.
The solution/product presented must:
Be functional: they prefer real code and design implementations over mockups;
Be innovative: relevance, originality and innovation level of the tech solution compared to existing alternatives;
Be FOSS/Open Source: in line with the commitment of UNESCO to ensure access to information and harness new technologies to improve people’s lives and tackle sustainable development challenges;
Additional criteria that will be taken into account:
Be easy-to-use: solution is intuitive with a clear and easy -to -use UI/UX;
Be scalable: possibility to scale the solution and replicate it in various different contexts;
Be inclusive: the solution targets and involves, both in its inception and deployment, women, youth, and otherwise marginalized groups.
For more information, visit https://challenges.vivatechnology.com/en/challenges/unesco

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