Memorandum of understanding between Politecnico di Torino and the World Food Programme (WFP)
Politecnico di Torino and the World Food Programme, the United Nations food assistance agency, as well as the largest humanitarian organization in the world, have signed a memorandum of understanding.
The agreement is part of international cooperation and research, and aims to promote the development of artificial intelligence systems that allow, using photographic images acquired by drones, to generate a map of damage to buildings caused by natural disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes.
Politecnico di Torino is today one of the first universities in Italy to provide not only an all-encompassing educational program for the use of drones for professional purposes, but also their use in humanitarian support activities already partly developed within the UP4DREAM project (www.up4dream.com). Following the experience of the Geomatics Group of Politecnico, which saw the wide use of drones for the survey of areas affected by the earthquake in central Italy in 2016, Filiberto Chiabrando of the Department of Architecture and Design and Andrea Lingua Department of Environment, Land and Infrastructure Engineering, with the support of Alessio Calantropio, PhD student in Architectural and Landscape Heritage have started an important collaboration with IT Emergency Preparedness and Response (TECF) WFP team, with the aim of applying innovative technologies to the activities of Building Damage Assessment.
“In the past you had to tell the computer the criteria or rules to identify an object, so it was necessary to create a new algorithm whenever you had to recognize a different object. Today, thanks to Artificial Intelligence, a machine can determine these rules by itself, observing the nature of the data at its disposal”, says Marco Codastefano, Data Scientist engaged in the development of Machine Learning algorithms at the WFP TEC division.
“The collaboration with WFP will certainly lead to interesting developments both in the field of international and national cooperation in activities related to the use of drones not only for emergency management but also for the measurements and monitoring of the environment natural and built,” says Filiberto Chiabrando.
“From the first experiments on the use of developed algorithms, interesting results have emerged on data related to the earthquake in central Italy. We are currently working on improving the performance of the Deep Learning model used,” added Alessio Calantropio.
Andrea Lingua concludes by stating that “The possibilities offered by artificial intelligence in synergy with drone photogrammetry and geomatics techniques allow us to provide crucial information in emergencies and the adoption of innovative technologies is a necessary step to take, to improve emergency response not only in our country, but globally”.