The TAPAS Project

TAPAS stands for Tracking Adaptation Progress in Agriculture and Food Security Using an AI-powered Satellite Remote Sensing Platform, and has been selected in the Concept Phase of Science Foundation Ireland’s AI for Societal Good Challenge. TAPAS principal goal is to enable countries to develop evidence-based means of measuring, reporting and verifying climate change adaptation in the agri-food sector with a particular focus on countries in the developing world, that are the most vulnerable to climate change. TAPAS is specifically aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 13: Climate Action.

Left: Differences between observed and predicted agricultural yields in the Senegal River Valley, ranging from red 'negative' to blue 'positive' as determined by CIAT's System for Evaluation of Impact Using Remote Sensing (SEIRS) AI based platform, which has been trained on historical remote sensing data prior to intervention initiation. The predicted vegetation signatures are compared with those observed from orbit following intervention - the blue regions are associated with local USAID programmes designed to increase subsistence farming community yields. Right: A cartoon showing NASA's Terra earth observation observatory in action.

Our project is an inter-disciplinary collaboration involving economists, computer scientists, environmental scientists and others from NUI Galway and from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), and aims to develop an AI-based approach that enables the agri-food sector to assess climatic perturbations. The proposed technology builds on CIAT’s SEIRS AI enabled imaging infrastructure, and will initially focus on characterising climate change in the developing world but will be scalable for implementation globally to support national governments’ compliance with the UNFCCC resolutions. TAPAS is co-funded by Science Foundation Ireland and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The TAPAS team is lead by myself, Professor Charles Spillane (Ryan Institute) and Dr. Andy Jarvis (International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), and also involves Dr. Ana Maria Loboguerrero Rodriquez, Dr. Louis Reymondin and Dr. Thibaud Vantalon, all from CIAT.

On April 2nd 2020 the TAPAS team presented the conclusions of their Concept Study to SFI’s Review Panel, and we await news to see if we have been successful in proceeding into the Seed Phase of the Challenge Programme.

Schematic showing SEIRS workflow - TAPAS will build on the legacy of this AI system.