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BMO-sponsored Vector AI toolkit uses computer vision techniques to help fight climate change

July 4, 2024 | Sustainability

A new open-source AI toolkit called SegMate can help organizations and researchers in the fight against climate change with cutting-edge computer vision techniques. Created by the Vector Institute, in collaboration with Vector Platinum sponsor BMO and Vector Gold sponsor TELUS, the toolkit includes an intuitive interface to apply Meta’s Segment Anything Model (SAM), allowing users to precisely isolate individual objects in an image – an important step in recognizing, classifying and segmenting objects in machine learning applications.  

The model can be applied to satellite images to track changes in deforestation, agricultural land use, ocean and inshore water bodies, and natural disaster responses. It replaces current methods, which rely on hand annotation and analysis, and can help companies better understand potential environmental risks to their investments. 

“If we are to meet the urgent timelines in addressing climate change, machine learning and AI will be among the sharpest tools in our arsenal. At Vector, our partnerships with invested industry leaders like BMO and TELUS are key to translating cutting-edge AI research into real-world solutions. Our collaborative open-source toolkit demonstrates the power of applied AI in understanding and addressing climate change.”

– Deval Pandya
Vector’s Vice President AI Engineering 

SegMate provides more accurate, detailed information more quickly than previous methods. It extends SAM’s field of view from strictly natural objects to accommodate satellite imagery, and allows researchers to accelerate the development of insights from satellite images by automating large parts of the analysis, and allowing the user to interact with the tool in the same way one would with a chatbot. Insights include information like forest cover across large areas, a key factor in understanding the human impact on forests.  

The toolkit has been open-sourced, giving academics and industry professionals access to tools that can help analyze satellite images for climate change monitoring and environmental hazard identification.   

“BMO’s Climate Ambition is to be our clients’ lead partner in the transition to a net-zero world. This includes developing analytical capabilities and insights to enable a better understanding of the effects of climate change. Partnering with the Vector Institute to develop techniques that unlock the power of AI to address pressing, real-world climate challenges is a demonstrable way that BMO is living its Purpose to Boldly Grow the Good in business and life.”

– Eric Morrow
Managing Director, Enterprise Data Science & AI, BMO 

The initiative underscores the value of co-development practices when bridging the gap between state-of-the-art research and real-world application. By emphasizing open-source solutions, the partners hope to increase the potential for widespread application, offering promising pathways for future advancements in the field. 

Check out the toolkit and find out more about BMO’s Climate Ambition.

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