Microsoft sheds light on how big data insights can benefit poorer countries

Software giant talks about the work it is doing to help developing countries use technology to improve their residents' quality of life.

Microsoft HQ sign

Software giant Microsoft used its Research Next event in Cambridge yesterday to show how big data insights can benefit the developing world.

Drew Purves, head of Microsoft's Computational Ecology and Environmental Science Group (CEES), demonstrated how the firm is using big data to develop predictive models of ecological systems in the developing world.

Purves, a Cambridge and Princeton University graduate, said the work will be used to make predictions about what will happen in certain ecosystems around the world and the impact it will have on the people who live there.

"For me, it's what we can achieve if we get this technology stuff right," Purves told IT Pro.

The CEES group's goal is to create software, which has recently culminated in the development of two new tools: FetchClimate and Flizbach.

"Two relatively mature tools that I have been deeply involved with are FetchClimate, an easy, intelligent service for providing climate information; and Filzbach, a fast, robust, flexible adaptive MCMC (Markov chain Monte Carlo) library for [protecting] complex models against heterogeneous data," explained Purves.

Along with his big data work, he said technology - in general - has a lot of potential to do more than ever before, such as predicting the spread of diseases or if someone will become diabetic.

"It is an information technology that doesn't have that much physical technology attached to it. But it really is transformative," he said.

"[One] thing that separates our group from some of the other groups you see in big companies like Microsoft is that a lot of the issues we deal with are actually more pertinent for poorer people in the developing world."

Purves said his goal is to show people they can have top-notch technology that is attainable and affordable.

"I've never experienced 'Apple envy' because I see really, really expensive, top-end devices that can be afforded by a small fraction [of people]," he said.

"What I would love to see is people who are able to farm better, people who will be able to look after their kids better. It's ideal in the developing world, really."

Featured Resources

Defeating ransomware with unified security from WatchGuard

How SMBs can defend against the onslaught of ransomware attacks

Free download

The IT expert’s guide to AI and content management

How artificial intelligence and machine learning could be critical to your business

Free download

The path to CX excellence

Four stages to thrive in the experience economy

Free download

Becoming an experience-based business

Your blueprint for a strong digital foundation

Free download

Recommended

Apple unveils iPhone 13, new iPad, and iPad mini
Mobile

Apple unveils iPhone 13, new iPad, and iPad mini

14 Sep 2021
Apple fires employee who alleged workplace sexism for 'leaking confidential data'
Careers & training

Apple fires employee who alleged workplace sexism for 'leaking confidential data'

10 Sep 2021
Apple confirms iPhone 13 launch event for 14 September
Mobile Phones

Apple confirms iPhone 13 launch event for 14 September

8 Sep 2021
What Apple's Epic battle could mean for the app business
Business strategy

What Apple's Epic battle could mean for the app business

8 Sep 2021

Most Popular

What are the pros and cons of AI?
machine learning

What are the pros and cons of AI?

8 Sep 2021
BT conducts 'world's first' trial of quantum-secure communications
Network & Internet

BT conducts 'world's first' trial of quantum-secure communications

13 Sep 2021
Google takes down map showing homes of 111,000 Guntrader customers
data breaches

Google takes down map showing homes of 111,000 Guntrader customers

2 Sep 2021