Alibaba and WFP Unveil Next Generation of Machine Learning Technology in the Fight Against Hunger
Today, Alibaba Group and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced the launch of “Hunger Map LIVE,” a groundbreaking global hunger monitoring system that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning and data analytics to predict and track the magnitude and severity of hunger in over 90 countries in close to real-time.
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Hunger Map LIVE brings together streams of publicly available information on food security, nutrition, conflict, weather and a variety of macro-economic data – including from WFP all in one place to show a holistic picture of the food security situation. It uses machine learning technology to make informed predictions on food security even in areas where data is currently limited.
Advanced data visualization tools then convert the resulting analysis of food insecurity at the global, country and subnational levels, and display it on an interactive map.
By having the most up-to-date information on food security on one central platform, WFP, the broader humanitarian community and global leaders can monitor progress and identify negative trends early, ultimately enabling better informed decision-making to improve efficiency in response time and curtailing costs.
"The Hunger Map LIVE is a visual wake-up call every day, showing us a real-time snapshot of the problem and reminding all of us that we must do more to defeat hunger," said WFP Executive Director David Beasley, speaking at an event with Heads of State, civil society and technology industry leaders on the sidelines of this year’s UN General Assembly in New York.
"The Hunger Map LIVE demonstrates WFP's commitment to digital transformation, working strategically with partners like Alibaba to use technology in ways that help us become more efficient and effective," Beasley said.
Underlining WFP’s renewed commitment to digital transformation, he added: “We started this strategic partnership with Alibaba in 2018 because we know that in the digital age, cooperation with the technology sector is critical. We need to continuously explore the latest technologies, newest ideas, and build lasting synergies with partners to help us reach those furthest behind.”
This launch marks the first milestone in the long-term partnership signed last year that aims to bring together WFP and Alibaba’s expertise to support efforts to achieve a world free of hunger by 2030.
“We are excited to provide our leading technology and resources to join WFP in the journey to fight hunger. Launching Hunger Map LIVE is only the first step,” said Alibaba Partner and Chairman of Alibaba Foundation Lijun Sun. “Across the Alibaba Group we have developed a leading technological ecosystem, and by working with the experts from WFP, we can really see it in a new perspective. This aligns with our vision of using technology to create a better world.”
“Hunger Map LIVE is a global public good, an online resource available for anyone to use,” said WFP’s Chief Economist and Director Arif Husain who oversees the team providing the food security data and analysis. “Food insecurity is usually measured in a static way even though we know that it is dynamic because it changes all the time. With the application of this technology, the global community has access to daily food insecurity estimates, and that is revolutionary.”
This is not the first time that WFP and Alibaba have joined forces to fight hunger and alleviate poverty. In August 2017, they worked on a poverty alleviation project connecting smallholder farmers in Anhui, a province in eastern China, directly with the market through e-commerce to provide this vulnerable population with access to market and to help the farmers obtain better prices for their agricultural produce, the Kiwi fruit.
The Hunger Map LIVE will be publicly accessible from 16 October, World Food Day, on hungermap.wfp.org.