The UN Innovation Network (UNIN) is an informal, collaborative community of UN innovators interested in sharing their expertise and experience with others to promote and advance innovation within the UN System. The UNIN is open to innovators from all UN Agencies as well as external partners and to date, representatives from 65+ entities in over 70 countries have joined the Network.
A Humanitarian Grand Challenge seeks life-saving or life-improving innovations to help the most vulnerable and hardest-to-reach people impacted by humanitarian crises caused by conflict.
Youth4Nature is calling on young people from all over the world to submit their stories about nature-based solutions
Innovation Norway is looking for bold innovation projects aiming to improve humanitarian response that saves lives, alleviates suffering and sustains people’s dignity.
A selection of 13 Virtual Reality films from UN Agencies and the MY World 360º young media creators showcasing the challenges of inequality and the importance of leaving no one behind will be screened at the European Development Days. The films take place around the world – in the Philippines, Albania, South Africa, Nepal, Iraq, Malawi, Nigeria, Lao PDR, Germany, USA, Brazil and Mongolia.
Experimenting with a new technology isn’t always easy, particularly within large organizations. One of the most powerful aspects of working within a UN Agency is that we find ourselves part of a larger, global system that, with the right tools, can allow us to harness our collective, cross-agency efforts to accelerate change. Blockchain-based applications are currently being explored by several UN agencies, and as a team, we wanted to come together to find a way that we could leverage one another’s learnings, while also enabling more agencies to experiment. The Atrium is an interagency development sandbox designed to enable collaboration across UN agencies who are interested in blockchain technology.
The United Nations human settlements programme, UN-Habitat, and Portuguese energy company EDP, are constructing a solar energy system to supply 12 classrooms – which have been built to withstand 180 km per hour winds – with clean, renewable energy.
This will have a huge impact on the community because, as well as enabling some 1,300 students to study at night, people living in the area will, for a small fee, be able to charge their mobile phones, and access the internet. They will also stand a better chance of surviving, when the next cyclones and floods hit the country: Mozambique has developed an early-warning system, with SMS alerts sent out by the government, but this only works in communities with access to energy.
Earlier this month, researchers created an AI-driven malware that can be used to hack hospital CT scans, generating false cancer images that deceived even the most skilled doctors. If introduced into today’s hospital networks, healthy people could be treated with radiation or chemotherapy for non-existent tumours, while early-stage cancer patients could be sent home with false diagnoses. Today’s medical intelligence about the treatment of cancers, blood clots, brain lesions and viruses could be manipulated, corrupted and destroyed. This is just one example of how “data-poisoning” – when data is manipulated to deceive – poses a risk to our most critical infrastructures. Without a common understanding of how AI is converging with other technologies to create new and fast-moving threats, far more than our hospital visits may turn into a nightmare.
Do you remember our last post on how chatbots can help to respond to humanitarian crisis? Well, since then we have made a lot of progress and new experiences, including the development of chatbots builder platforms but also deployment and user testing. Sharing is caring, so here is a write-up of what we have been up to lately.
Artificial Intelligence is frequently in the headlines these days, sometimes portrayed in apocalyptic terms as the technology that will take over our jobs or even our lives. But what if it could also become a valuable tool in the worldwide efforts to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals?
UNHCR has always been innovating. Currently, in Quito, Diego Nardi is working on challenges around how we communicate with communities. In our Global Learning Centre, Clarisse Ntampaka is working out how to train people on protection more effectively. In Nairobi, Sandra Aluoch and Kent Awiti are scaling connected learning across Africa. Netta Rankin is grappling with Artificial Intelligence and human resources systems. The commitment and efforts to innovate exist in our organisation, in the obvious but also in the prosaic. They exist agnostic of age, and professional profile, and they exist because of a huge diversity of thought.
I’m not making the case for innovation being a panacea, I’m saying that it’s an important tool, an important part of what we do, and how we do it — including how we solve challenges big and small. At such a complicated and complex time, we must not only invest in innovation but also our ability to effectively change and adapt.
A UNESCO publication produced in collaboration with Germany and the EQUALS Skills Coalition, I’d Blush if I Could, features recommendations on actions to overcome global gender gaps in digital skills, with a special examination of the impact of gender prejudice coded into some of the most prevalent artificial intelligence (AI) applications such as digital voice assistants.
The publication locates this prejudice in the gender imbalance of technical teams leading the development of frontier technologies and identifies policy solutions to help women and girls cultivate strong digital skills.
The recommendations about the gendering of AI are urgent in light of the explosive growth of voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa technology. Almost all of these assistants are given female names and voices and express a ‘personality’ that is engineered to be uniformly subservient. The title of the publication borrows its name from the response that Siri, the Apple voice assistant use
Pigs play a key role in Papua New Guinea, both culturally and economically. Rising global demand for pork presents new export opportunities, but only if farmers can prove the quality of their product. Together with the International Telecommunications Unit, FAO is creating a distributed ledger system (a blockchain-based system) that can track livestock and allow consumers to buy with confidence by verifying the history of their pigs. Before the system was implemented, consumers had no means of verifying this information. The implementation of the new tracking system is vital for establishing consumer trust and ensuring farmers can expand their markets and earn a fair return on their investments.
As part of UNICEF’s work to support the Government of Indonesia’s response to the earthquake and tsunami struck Palu in 2018, UNICEF piloted a new WhatsApp partnership on the digital platform U-Report.
U-Report has traditionally used text messages to crowdsource people’s opinions and participation to deliver impact on UNICEF and partner NGO programmes. UNICEF asks young people about issues that matter to them which then informs UNICEF’s daily work, but when a natural disaster happens, the platform has a dual use: First, UNICEF, the Government and NGO partners can send short, simple, useful messages to thousands of people to keep them safe. In turn, the subscribers can reply, in real time, to tell the responders what they need to survive.