IBM praises Bath agency’s African tech-led humanitarian aid project

A tech-based project to improve humanitarian aid efforts in Africa has earned Bath‐based multi‐service marketing agency Edit recognition from IBM.

Edit’s solution speeds up the mapping process so that teams can quickly provide humanitarian assistance and also address issues such as female genital mutilation, early marriage, and gender‐based violence that hold back some African communities. 

The project was praised by judges as a finalist in IBM’s Beacon Awards, which celebrate exceptional solutions delivered by IBM Business Partners to transform the way its clients and industries operate.

Edit’s team in the awards was led by technical consultant Simon Peel and included marketing manager Neth Williams and colleague Tom Luxton and named the Watson Guild team as it used IBM’s Watson Visual Recognition as a basis for developing the sophisticated prototype image classifier for use by aid volunteers.

The classifier was built in response to a common problem faced by humanitarian teams on the ground in Tanzania where their response times are hampered by a lack of accurate geographic data, especially data identifying settlements and lived-in buildings.

The project is intended to assist the charity Crowd2Map Tanzania, which operates through Missing Maps, and the Humanitarian Open Street Map Team project, to decipher areas in rural Tanzania where homesteads are likely to be present, so highlighting where aid or support may need to be focused.

Crowd2Map Tanzania, MissingMaps and British Red Cross have shown an interest in Simon’s project, and discussions are now taking place to implement it.

Simon said: “Having worked with charities in Tanzania I discovered that a number of time‐critical mapping projects don’t get completed within the required time, leaving the humanitarian teams on the ground without the local maps that they need.

“The aim of this solution is to dramatically speed up the mapping process so that teams can quickly provide humanitarian assistance.

“I hope this award raises awareness of the solution so that it could be implemented for real. From a professional point of view, it’s fantastic to be recognised by IBM, who are holding this project up as example of Watson’s capabilities, and we’re looking to get their support to develop this further. Watson is an incredible tech platform and the possibilities it holds are almost endless.”

Simon started the project while working at Chilcompton-based data-driven marketing agency Occam DM. Occam owner, international marketing group St Ives, last month merged the business with two of its other West of England-based businesses Response One and Amaze One to create Edit.

 I’m very grateful to Edit for supporting me and the team on this project, and their appreciation of the power of tech to transform lives.” 

Edit chief executive Damian Coverdale added: “I’m delighted that one of our own has developed a best‐in‐class example of what an existing piece of tech can do. At Edit we work closely with IBM as an approved partner, and we’ll continue to push the boundaries the tech at our fingertips both now and into the future.”

Edit’s clients include Cosmos Travel, Azzurri Group, Pizza Hut along with leading automotive clients such as Citroen, Fiat, and JLR.

The merged firm has brought together more than 200 staff in a showpiece office at Bath’s 20 Manvers St building.

Over 200 of Edit’s staff will be based in its new offices in central Bath, which will see its CRM, media, technology and data science teams work seamlessly to help client projects flow through the business from start to finish. An offshoot office in Manchester will support the headquarters and clients in their respective region.

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