Machine Learning and Intelligent Systems

@iLabAfrica, KAM, GIZ launch jobs portal

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The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) through @iLabAfrica, Strathmore University has launched a portal where job seekers and industry players can link to create synergies. The Jobs portal was unveiled during the launch of the first ever TVET Job Summit in Nairobi, the site that will act as a direct link between industries and job seeking technical skills graduates.

The portal was developed in partnership with German Development Cooperation through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) E4D/SOGA – Employment and Skills for Eastern Africa.

The portal which was designed by @iLabAfrica, Strathmore Univeristy is set to host job opportunities from businesses and industries and targets job seeking graduates from technical institutions.

Speaking at the KAM Job Summit, @iLabAfrica Director, Dr. Joseph Sevilla mentioned “It is great to see industry and education sectors come together to create job portals for the youth. These developments create employment opportunities for the youth by linking their skills to the right jobs and eventually growing the economy of the country. ”

Chief Administrative Secretary, Labour and Social Protection, Mr. Abdul Bahari noted that the mismatch between skills possessed by graduates of training institutions and those demanded by industry is one of key reasons behind the high unemployment rates in the country, especially amongst the youth.

Manufacturing is one of the pillars in the Government’s Big Four Initiative, which seeks to increase the manufacturing share of the country’s GDP from 8.4 percent in 2017 to 15 percent by 2022.Intertwined with the growth of manufacturing, is the Government’s goal of ensuring adequate employment opportunities for its citizens.”

 

Also present at the summit, Principal Secretary Technical and Vocational Education and Training, Dr. Kevit Desai reiterated the importance of the role of industry in creating opportunities for technical skills graduates, “Industry has a role to play in creating sabbatical for our trainees. We are at a time in this nation that we must look beyond technical issues, we must consider national values, cohesion, attitudinal issues and must be inculcated as a standard for international competitiveness.”

KAM Chairlady, Ms. Flora Mutahi noted that the job site will provide grounds for industry to meet its much desired skills for growth. Adding that, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will change global definitions of work, labour and production and eventually disrupt traditional work processes.

“The job portal is the much needed intervention that industry desired to have direct linkage to technical skilled graduates. It is also an opportunity for business leaders and industries to collaborate with institutions to grow the employment ratio in the country,” said Ms Mutahi.

Also at the event, GIZ Country Director Mr. Stephen Opitz emphasized the GIZ engagement towards the development of technical skills in the country.

“Through GIZ E4D/SOGA programme, we aim to train about 12000 youth, and purpose to place about 7000, of the trained youth, by 2019.The portal will be a valuable platform that will easily connect employers and potential talents. That is why we are partnering with KAM to make this happen,” added Mr. Opitz.

Industry remains a big contributor to jobs creation, which is a major driver for economic development. The President’s Big Four Action plan highlights the manufacturing sector as a priority sector in transforming the lives of Kenyans through job and wealth creation.

 

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@ilabAfrica and Atlancis Technologies sign partnership in Information Technology Research and Development

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Mr. Daniel Kinyua, CEO Atlancis and Dr. Sevilla, Director @iLabAfrica Research Centre

@ilabafrica, Strathmore University and Atlancis Technologies  signed a strategic partnership focused on cutting-edge research into the next generation of information technology.

The partnership signed by @iLabAfrica Research Centre will allow Strathmore University and Atlancis to jointly explore and provide direction for academic researchers and technology experts in Kenya to collectively innovate and develop applications in research areas such as energy, banking, healthcare, education and transport among other sectors as well as champion development of local technology ecosystem.

The focus of this collaboration will be on the emerging technologies such as Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain Technology, Cyber Security, Internet of Things (IoT) and Cloud Services.

‘The next frontier of research is clearly going to be driven by technology, and universities must nurture relevant linkages with industry to make this happen. In this way, the research output coming from universities will resonate with the needs of industry’. says, Dr. Sevilla, Director @iLabAfrica Research Centre.

‘Atlancis’ decision to collaborate with Strathmore University will keep the two partners as the country’s leaders in big data. This initiative is good news for Kenya’s technology base, universities and the economy’, reiterated Mr. Kinyua, CEO, Atlancis Technologies.

The MoU was signed by Dr. Joseph Sevilla, Director of Strathmore’s @iLabAfrica Research Centre and Mr. Daniel Kinyua, Chief Executive of Atlancis Technologies.

Smarter Transportation solutions for African cities

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@ilabAfrica was this week pleased to host Professor Tierra Bills an Assistant Professor and Michigan Society Fellow in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Bills was visiting to give a lecture on, An Electronic Travel Data Collection Tool for Nairobi Kenya with the ultimate goal of designing Smarter Transportation solutions for rapidly developing African cities.

Like many other African cities, Nairobi is now grappling with the challenges of rapid urbanization. Kenya’s population has increased by 55% over the last decade, and this combined with significant rural-to-urban migration in Kenya has resulted in critical stress on Nairobi’s limited transportation infrastructure.

To mitigate these transportation issues, Nairobi County Government had proposed a plan for (formalized) mass public transportation across the region. The challenge is the lack of adequate transportation data for investigating travel preferences of Nairobi travelers.

For Nairobi, there is currently no on-going data collection system or periodic program effort to investigate the activity-based travel behaviors of Nairobi residents. This can significantly constrain the ability Nairobi transportation planners to investigate (via scenario analysis and forecasting) transportation solutions that will address Nairobi’s multimodal transportation needs.

To gather enough data Dr. Bills is working with a team of Kenyan students (software development and computer science) to design, prototype, and test an electronic and multi-source travel data collection tool.

The preliminary data collected with this tool will be used to refine the data collection tool for future region-wide travel studies in Nairobi, Kenya. Further, this tool would be a significant contribution to researchers and planners interested in implementing data-driven transportation policies and traffic solutions in African as well as other developing cities. Given that such a transportation data collection tool has not been developed for Kenya before, there are many interesting research questions involved with this project.

This project will require students focusing on the following areas: • SMS frontend application • Android front end application among others.

The data collected from such initiatives would be used to estimate (the first) activity based travel demand model for the Nairobi region. In addition to generating a dataset for these modeling purposes, a parallel objective would be to distill a general framework for delivering reliable travel survey data using a hybrid of electronic data collection sources. This hybrid approach could then be replicated for other African and developing cities.

Professor Tierra Bills Bio is working on the project in collaboration for Dr. Joseph Sevilla, Director @iLabAfrica – Strathmore University.

Dr. Tierra Bills. Dr. Bills is an Assistant Professor and Michigan Society Fellow in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Michigan. She has recently joined the department (in Fall 2016) after spending 3 years as a Research Scientist at IBM Research Africa. While in Kenya, Dr. Bills also lectured at Strathmore University’s iLabAfrica and taught MTI 8203 Research Methodology for Application Development. Much of Dr. Bills’ research focuses on investigating the social impacts of transportation projects.

For more information write to john on jolukuru@strathmore.edu

 

 

Advanced Analysis & Visualization in Excel

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Smart Farms-Remote Farm Monitoring system

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Every farmer understands the importance of monitoring the crops and/or animals in the farm. It is important to monitor crop growth, field environment, and farming operations in order to increase the agricultural productivity and to promote efficient management. With the growing green revolution in progress the world of agriculture and smart farms are taking a leading role in ensuring efficient, innovative, dynamic and eco-friendly farms. Farmers are now looking for smart ways to monitor and manage their crops remotely.

Farmers over the years have experienced problems related to water usage and supply, energy supply and the demerit of distance of accessing these resources. The importance of monitoring the water usage in farms is increasing with farmers seeking technology that will help them improve their agricultural productivity.

@iLabAfrica Research Centre based in Strathmore University in collaboration with IBM Kenya, and Oregon State University together with Trans-African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory (TAHMO) intend to come together to develop an intelligent farm Management system that leverages Internet of Things(IoT) architecture through remote sensing and low power wide area networks as well data analytics. The overall concept of the system is to be able to build deeper analytics that can provide more information in a predictive model to help farmers understand their farms in terms of soil composition and changes, water usage and evaporation rates as well as the changing weather parameters that can visually present an insightful trend on the changing climate. This project collaboratively explores a way of remote monitoring that could guarantee farmers an easy way to understand various parameters such as temperature, humidity, soil moisture and water levels in various tanks on their farms among other parameters. This is expected to provide a smarter approach to farming, referred to as Precision Farming.

The data collected in the Internet of Things (IoT) stack in this project so far includes temperature, humidity, water level (rate of water evaporation also monitored through the use of evaporimeters –provided by Oregon State University), battery level and  the signal strength of the data transmitting devices.

To reliably provide this solution, the project is expected to use GSM/GPRS and Long Range (LoRa) connectivity to achieve the desired Machine-to-Machine data exchange between the farms and the cloud since the farming areas envisioned in these concept are located in rural areas. These areas experience poor signal strength even on the cellular network. Hence, the need to also gather data on the signal strength of the network.

Currently, two IoT devices of this kind have been deployed to a test farm in Kitengela, south of Nairobi. The devices are currently powered by mini solar-panels and continually transmit data at an interval of 15 minutes. These devices make of the GSM/GPRS technology as at now. The project as is, has proven to be working and data can be relayed from the farm to both a web and a mobile interface through IBM’s Cloudant database. The information gathered provides real-time information on the parameters described to the farmer.

The next step of development will be to  deploy the solution in more farms and build a low cost, low maintenance weather station that can be used by farmers and also provide an irrigation service that can intelligently be measured and remotely actuated. Alternative Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) communication technology, in this case, LoRa will also be implemented to provide a more stable and reliable service of transmitting these data.

@iLabAfrica IoT Manager and project lead Mr. Leonard Mabele mentioned that “with more funding, we can reach out to more farmers in remote areas and acquire more devices for deployment, mass testing and implementation. This will also allow us to reach out to IoT security experts to enable us to not only develop a working solution but a securely tested one as well. This projects will see us uplift the process and yields of farmers and in return build their communities.

For more information about this click HERE

Launch of Kiambu Cashless revenue collection System

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Kiambu county has launched a cashless payment system to improve its revenue collection. The payment system designed by @iLabAfrica Research Centre in Strathmore University through its other arm- Strathmore Research and consultancy center (SRCC) is designed to ensure that revenue collection in the county is a citizen centric automated system contributing to enhanced income streams and provision of services.

The Launch took place on the 2nd of March 2017 and was attended by the Kiambu Governor, Hon. Ferdinand Waititu his Deputy James Nyoro, @iLabAfrica Director Dr. Joseph Sevilla and county executives (CEC’s), and major stakeholders.

Speaking during the launch Governor Waititu said that the county collects up to Sh46 million a week and projects collections are expected to shoot up with the cashless system. “The revenue collected goes directly to our account. This eliminates middlemen who are an extra cost to the County and ensures accountability of the citizens’ revenue”; he said.  The governor further noted that they had launched a USSD code that will help Kiambu locals to pay for various services offered in the county.

“We have launched our USSD code *419# through Safaricom Kenya Limited which will assist Kiambu residents to pay for some services like parking, market fee, single business permits renewal among others”; Waititu said. “The USSD code is faster and people can pay their taxes wherever they are without going to county offices,” he said.

The county has partnered with Cooperative Bank to collect the revenue and residents will get a payment confirmation. With the launch, the governor noted that this implementation was a way that his administration would enhance revenue collection.
“These are some of the steps my county has undertaken to enhance revenue collection. Improved revenue collection will translate to more development projects for Kiambu citizens. This money is meant for development. We have reviewed all licenses and fees and have lowered them to help Kiambu residents conduct their business without high charges,” Waititu said.
Other counties where @iLabAfrica Research Centre has implemented revenue collection
systems are; Taita Taveta County, Busia County, Mombasa County and Kilifi County.

This step of implementing revenue collection systems is a move by the commission on Revenue Allocation, the ICT Authority of Kenya and implementers of financial management and policies in all 47 counties.
For more information about the system visit www.ilabafrica.com