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Research finds use for AI in tracking polluting brick kilns

  • Published at 09:42 pm May 10th, 2021
File Photo: New study shows that artificial intelligence can be used to locate and regulate pollutive brick kilns in Bangladesh ReutersReuters

Brick manufacturing must be cleaned up, researchers say

A recent study has found potential in the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning to help regulators track brick kilns that are damaging the environment in Bangladesh.

The study, conducted by Stanford University, US and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (iccdr,b), was published in peer-review multidisciplinary science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reports Scidev.net.

According to the study, the use of AI and satellite imagery may be an efficient solution to the problem of tracking industries that are difficult to regulate, such as brick kilns.

“Our approach could really reduce the time and effort needed to regulate the brick industry,” said Nina Brooks, one of the authors of the study and a postdoctoral associate at the Institute for Social Research and Data Innovation of the University of Minnesota, US, as quoted by Scidev.net.

“Trying to push kilns farther and farther away from humans is not feasible and demand for bricks is showing no signs of slowing down. Brick manufacturing must be cleaned up—and this is another area where our group is actively engaged in research in Bangladesh,” she added.

In the study, the researchers developed an algorithm based on previous deep learning applications used in environmental monitoring and previous efforts to advocate deep learning to identify brick kilns. The algorithm could track down whether images contain kilns and localise kilns within the image.

“The method rebuilds kilns that have been fragmented across multiple images—an inherent problem with satellite imagery—and is able to identify when multiple kilns are contained within a single image,” according to a release from Stanford University.

“The approach revealed that more than three-fourths of kilns in Bangladesh are illegally constructed within 1 kilometre (0.6 mile) of a school, and almost 10 per cent are illegally close to health facilities. It also showed that the government systematically underreports kilns with respect to regulations,” it added.

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