The growing and essential role that artificial intelligence (AI) and remote sensing play in managing threats like climate change, pandemics and natural disasters was the theme of a recent international forum at Oman’s Sultan Qaboos University.
The university’s Remote Sensing and Geographical Information Systems Research Center organised the forum with Naif Arab University for Security Sciences, in Riyadh; the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Society for Geosciences and Remote Sensing.
Yaseen Ahmed Al-Mulla, director of the center and chairman of the forum’s organizing committee, said temporal and spatial information technology was one of the fastest developing technologies.
He said the idea behind the forum was that integrating artificial intelligence technology with remote sensing tools and space science could be used for satellite monitoring, information acquisition, processing, analysis, and on-the-ground study to support the sustainable development of society, the environment and decision-making.
Documenting Climate Change
The impact of climate change has been documented around the world, Al-Mulla said. At the same time, the world has experienced an increase in the frequency and severity of natural hazards, including the recent health pandemic (Covid-19). Together, such events pose serious threats to people’s lives and property, he said.
Geographic information systems and remote sensing are emerging as “indispensable techniques in environmental analysis, assessment and monitoring.”Yaseen Ahmed Al-Mulla Director of the Remote Sensing and Geographical Information Systems Research Center at Sultan Qaboos University.
Artificial intelligence and remote sensing have unique capabilities in surveying, monitoring, and measuring the effects of natural hazards to provide better disaster information, Al-Mulla said.
These technologies have become “significant and essential supporters” of disaster prevention and mitigation, he argued. With advances in big data science, they are helping to build a more-resilient, sustainable society ready to face climate change and natural and health hazards.
Working Papers on AI Applications
The international forum included two main events. Participants discussed six working papers via Zoom during the first day of the conference. The second event lasted three days and included specialist workshops attended by 366 participants from 25 countries.
The six working papers discussed at the conference were:
- “Using Artificial Intelligence for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management”, presented by Mohamed Saidi, of the Interactive Digital Center, in Morocco;
- “Deep Learning for Remote Sensing: Recent Developments and Challenges”, presented by Fahd Al-Masoud;
- “The Application of Artificial Intelligence and Geographic Information Systems in the Management of Natural Hazards”, presented by Tariq Suleiman, of Naif Arab University for Security Sciences;
- “Artificial Intelligence and Its Impact in the Medical Field: Basic Understanding of Blue Ocean Ideas”, presented by Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Zakwani, of the Sultan Qaboos University Medical Research Center;
- “The Importance of Satellite Data for Regional Environmental Monitoring”, presented by Elias Alani, of the Regional Organization for the Protection of the Marine Environment, in Kuwait; and
- “The Role of Artificial Intelligence Technology in Remote Sensing: Hurricane Shaheen and Covid-19 as Case Studies”, by Yaseen Ahmed Al-Mulla.
Remote sensing through satellite imaging has become an integral part of applications like oil and mineral exploration, identifying polluted areas, agricultural monitoring and crop forecasts, and urban management.
The Remote Sensing and Geographical Information Systems Research Center at Sultan Qaboos University coordinates activities and research projects through geographic information systems and remote sensing. It also coordinates between the university, ministries, industry, and institutions outside the sultanate.
The center provides advice and technical support to national agencies and society in general, to boost cooperation. It also organises training courses, workshops, lectures and conferences related to geographic information systems and remote sensing at local and international levels.
Geographic information systems and remote sensing are emerging as “indispensable techniques in environmental analysis, assessment and monitoring,” Al-Mulla said.
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He explained that satellite imaging had become an integral part of applications like oil and mineral exploration, identifying polluted areas, meteorology, commercial fishing, agricultural monitoring and crop forecasts, and urban management.
Al-Mulla said remote sensing techniques could be used in many more fields, the challenge was matching the technology to the problem.
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