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10 Bits: The Data News Hotlist

by Morgan Stevens

This week’s list of data news highlights covers August 7, 2021 – August 13, 2021 and includes articles on AI systems recommending pizza and exploring the Berlin Wall with augmented reality.

1. Expanding Municipal Data Transparency

City officials in Detroit, Michigan have expanded Detroit Street View, a data initiative run by the city’s Department of Innovation and Technology to increase access to municipal data. Currently, residents can access geospatial data captured by lidar sensors and view 360-degree images of city streets. With the update, residents can view data on 4G and 5G coverage throughout the city.

2. Detecting Signs of Dementia

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have developed an AI system that can detect signs of dementia from a single brain scan. The team trained the system on thousands of brain scans from patients with dementia and is planning to use the system in clinical trials around the United Kingdom. 

3. Mapping Mobile Broadband Coverage

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has created a map showing the extent of mobile broadband coverage in the United States. The FCC used crowdsourced data to detail 4G LTE and voice mobile coverage from the four largest mobile providers in the country: AT&T, T-Mobile, UScellular, and Verizon. 

4. Learning About the Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall Foundation has launched an augmented reality app to provide users with an immersive historical experience of the Cold War. For example, the app projects images and videos of American and Soviet military activity near Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin shortly after the construction of the Berlin Wall.  

5. Improving Traffic Around Campus

The University of California, San Diego has partnered with the city of San Diego, the California Department of Transportation, and Cubic, a traffic innovation company to install smart traffic signals on 26 intersections that surround the university. The signals will collect data on personal vehicles, transit vehicles, cyclists, and other travelers to improve traffic management around campus.

6. Recommending Pizzas

Pizza Hut has developed an AI system to recommend pizzas to customers. The system uses data on the weather, order history, aggregated customer behavior, and general location to recommend pizza types, crusts, and toppings. 

7. Mapping the Effects of Climate Change

The United Nations’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Predictia, a data analytics company based in Spain, have launched an interactive map to show how different levels of greenhouse gas emissions will affect weather patterns around the world. Users can manipulate variables to show what effect changes in greenhouse gas emission levels will have on average temperatures, precipitation, snowfall, and sea levels across the world. The team took over 1.5 million hours of computing time on a supercomputer to build the map.

8. Translating the Plain Language Commands into Code

OpenAI has developed an AI system that can turn plain language instructions into software code. A user can type a command like “create a webpage with a menu on the side,” and the tool will translate the command into software code. The purpose is to make the work of professional programmers more efficient, as well as help amateurs start coding.

9. Preventing Deforestation in the Amazon

Microsoft has partnered with Imazon, a Brazilian conservation organization, and Vale, a Brazilian mining company, to launch an AI system that can predict deforestation targets in the Amazon forest. The system uses data on topography, land cover, urban infrastructure, socioeconomic trends, and satellite images from the European Space Agency to identify regions in danger of deforestation. So far, the system has classified nearly 10,000 square kilometers as high-risk regions.

10. Predicting the Spread of Skin Cancer

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas have created an AI system that can predict which skin cancers have a high risk of spreading. The team trained the system on 1.7 million images of cancerous cells in petri dishes. The system then identified a feature that signified a cell’s potential to metastasize.  

Image credit: Flickr user Yoshihide Nomura

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