Originally published February 9, 2015 on Business Wire. To see original release, click here.
SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Idibon announces a collaboration with UNICEF to provide scalable natural language processing and analytics to their U-report applications. U-report applications leverage UNICEF’s open source RapidPro platform, which empowers governments to deliver valuable real-time information and connect communities to available services via text (SMS) messages.
Text messages are the most widely used digital communication for many of the world’s poorest people, for whom cell phone ownership is more widespread than access to fresh drinking water, education or basic health.
“Processing text messages from anywhere in the world goes to the heart of Idibon’s mission,” said Idibon’s CEO Robert Munro. “Helping organizations process communications in any language gives a voice to the most overlooked people in our connected world — the more than 50 percent of the world who do not speak English, Chinese, Spanish or any other dominant language.”
In the collaboration, Idibon is helping UNICEF process messages sent from citizens to their analysts in potentially hundreds of languages.
“We are excited to work with Idibon to explore new ways of engaging with the young people that we serve — in their own local languages and dialects. Thanks to Idibon’s unique natural language processing technology, we’ll be able to better understand and empower marginalized communities that are often excluded due to language barriers,” said Evan Wheeler, CTO of UNICEF’s Global Innovation Centre.
“Our machine learning systems can help UNICEF understand the most pressing needs of the populations they serve, at a scale not currently available to social development organizations,” explained Munro.
Prior to Idibon, Munro ran the largest uses of text messaging for disaster response and wrote his Stanford PhD thesis about the use of machine learning for this purpose. Overseeing the project within Idibon is Jessica Long. Her unique experience combines a MS in Natural Language Processing at Stanford with work in health information systems in rural Burundi.
Idibon was founded with the mission of bringing smart language processing to all the world’s languages and has deep expertise in social development engagements. Idibon’s investors include Khosla Ventures, where Vinod Khosla has been a thought leader on income disparity and machine learning, and Morningside Ventures, run by the Chan family who recently gave $350m to the Harvard School of Public Health, the University’s largest ever gift. Idibon has been actively involved in processing unstructured data and text classification in disaster and development contexts, supporting damage assessments following Hurricane Sandy in New York, helping track epidemics globally, and partnering with organizations like the MIT’s Humanitarian Response Lab.
Idibon helps companies understand their language data. Using cutting-edge natural language processing and data science, Idibon takes unstructured data like social media, emails, and websites, and provides structured answers to key business intelligence questions.
Robert Munro, 415-509-4858