To give the opportunity to learn Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for biodiversity conservation for young researchers of the University of Mahajanga, Tanjona Association organised the Open Data Day event. This event was held on 9 – 10 March 2023 at the University of Mahajanga, under the name “Hay Tech” as same as the last year to ensure its continuity.
The objectives highly focus on the importance of using advanced technologies in research:
- To train young scientists in becoming familiar with the web-based application Digital Earth Africa for forest monitoring;
- To familiarise young researchers with using new technologies for their future research;
- To strengthen the connection between young researchers and mentors;
- To teach young scientists about effective and readable data collection so that it can be accessed by another user.
30 graduate students from the science department attended the event. A minimum of knowledge in GIS was required in order to attend the event. The participants were mentored by the elder researchers from the Department of Science who already have multiple experiences in using advanced technologies like AI and ML in their current research.
The event started with a self-introduction from each participant and mentor. After the introduction, the session continued with the introduction to the web-based application Digital Earth Africa. Digital Earth Africa is a free and open-access platform with built-in script in Python code for remote sensing in multiple domains including forest monitoring and change detection. This part was provided by Kanto RAZANAJATOVO, one of the participants in the official launch of Digital Earth Africa in 2020. The importance of AI and ML in advancing and enhancing research was explained to participants to familiarise and encourage them to use open access and advanced tools like Digital Earth Africa.
Fieldwork was conducted after the presentation, in which participants learned how to collect data that can be easily used by other people and how to verify data to compare with those from remote sensing. This part was provided by Jospin BANAH and Herizo ONINJATOVO RADONIRINA. Trainees were invited to ameliorate their method in data collection so that it can be accessible in the future for the next generation as we are constantly promoting the availability of data for the student. A manipulation of QGIS, especially in georeferencing was provided by Dr. Bernard ANDRIAMAHATANTSOA.
From the 2022 Open Data Day event, graduate students were able to constantly connect with mentors in using GIS and other tools related to biodiversity conservation. The continuation of Open Data Day helped graduate students in manipulating tools that were seemingly difficult for them like QGIS, effective and clean databases, and remote sensing.