CAPE TOWN – Zindi, the biggest network for professional data scientists in Africa, has partnered with Ernst & Young Africa to host a series of machine learning hackathons for its employees. Participants will be challenged to build a machine learning model that can monitor methane gas levels on the continent.
In October 2021, Ernst & Young Global became carbon-negative, reaching a major milestone in its four-step carbon ambition. At the time of the announcement, Carmine Di Sibio, the Global Chairman and CEO of EY Global said, “The challenges of climate change and decarbonisation need answers that can only be found together. Through collaborating with others, we’ll find the collective solutions that’ll help us all reduce emissions. After all, sustainability is everybody’s business.”
The professional services firm continues to focus on reducing absolute emissions in line with its science-based target and is on track to reach net-zero in 2025. “Decarbonisation is the innovation opportunity of a lifetime; it will transform our economy and directly or indirectly impact the future of every company. We recognise that our employees are at the core of our drive to reach net-zero, and they should have the tools and training required to help them embrace new ways of thinking and working. If we are to continue to attract the best talent and deliver the best solutions to our clients, we need to enable our people in the best way that we can,” says Kavi Pather, the Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Analytics Leader for the Africa region of EY.
This hackathon has two aims; to help grow machine learning skills within the organisation, and to get employees involved in generating ideas that will bring the firm’s decarbonisation drive to life. “Air pollution sensors are not common on the African continent, but methane monitoring is critical for climate modelling. Employees will use free and publicly available satellite data to predict methane emission levels using the Zindi platform. The resulting machine learning models will enable us to accurately estimate methane gas levels, even in places where there are currently no air sensors, resulting in a visual dashboard or heat map,” says Pather. “Measurement of emissions and monitoring of methane can provide an improved understanding of processes that lead to emissions and is essential to detect regional trends and develop robust emission policies.”
More and more businesses are discovering the benefits that investing in a hackathon can bring. In this age where technical innovation is paramount for companies to remain successful, it’s the perfect way to stay ahead of the curve. “Risk-taking possibly isn’t encouraged on a day-to-day basis within most corporate structures, but the exciting and informal environment of a hackathon provides a temporary departure from the norm. It’s not just the environment that lends itself to innovation during a hackathon; time sensitivity forces visionary ideas to be distilled and developed into something tangible,” says Celina Lee, CE and co-founder of Zindi.
“It is critical that businesses take an active role in supporting their existing workforces through reskilling and upskilling, and a hackathon unlocks and empowers a unique way of thinking about projects going forward. Teams are also likely to stumble upon something they never knew they needed, and it’s this potential for discovery that makes hackathons such an exciting process,” she says.
The hackathon will serve not only as an idea generator but will lead to a meaningful outcome. “The hackathon will help us develop data science talent in pockets of the organisation that may be quite isolated from our AI team,” says Pather. “While empowering our workforce and building our data science community to achieve a goal has its obvious benefits, potentially finding a solution to benefit people and planet in the process makes the internal hackathon a tantalising proposition for us,” he concludes.
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Zindi was established in Cape Town in 2018, with the aim of making data science and artificial intelligence (AI) skills accessible to companies on the African continent.
With a network of over 50 000 data scientists registered on the platform, from more than 160 countries around the world, Zindi helps data practitioners of all levels access tutorials and mentors to build their practical skills, and virtually participate in data science competitions.
They are also able to apply for jobs using their CV on the Zindi platform and connect with a broader community of practice. Key global clients and partners include Microsoft, Google, Deepmind, Instadeep, and Ernst & Young.
EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, strategy and transactions and consulting services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.
EY refers to the global organisation, and may refer to one or more, of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. Information about how EY collects and uses personal data, and a description of the rights individuals have under data protection legislation are available via ey.com/privacy. For more information about our organisation, please visit ey.com.
This news release has been jointly issued by Zindi and Ernst & Young Services (Pty) Ltd, a member of the global EY organisation that does not provide any services to clients.
For further information about EY, go to https://www.ey.com/en_za/services
ABOUT CELINA LEE
- Celina Leeis the CEO and co-founder of Zindi https://zindi.africa Celina has a proven track record of thought leadership in the intersect between data and development and has played central roles in launching global initiatives including the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (afi-global.org), insight2impact (www.i2ifacility.org), and now Zindi.
Celina’s work has expansively bridged across the private and public sectors and across various development areas including financial inclusion, micro and small enterprise development, gender, climate change, and public health.