SEIO – Fundación BBVA 2023 Award

The study "Monitoring war destruction from space using machine learning", with contributions from CVC researcher Joan Serrat, has been honoured with the SEIO-Fundación BBVA 2023 Award

The study “Monitoring war destruction from space using machine learning, in which the CVC researcher, Dr Joan Serrat, has participated, has been recognized in the 2023 edition of the Society of Statistics and Operations Research (SEIO) - BBVA Foundation Awards.

The awarded work was conducted by Andre Groeger (Ramón y Cajal researcher at UAB), Hannes Mueller (senior scientist at the Institute of Economic Analysis of CSIC), Jonathan Hersh (associate professor of Economics and Management Science at Chapman University in California), Andrea Matranga (associate professor of Business at Chapman University in California), and Joan Serrat (associate professor of Computer Science at UAB and CVC researcher).

The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, focused on a method that applies machine learning to detect the destruction of buildings by artillery using neural networks. It enables the monitoring of destruction during armed conflicts in near real-time, with the aim of improving humanitarian responses.

The algorithm, trained with images from the Syrian civil war between 2013 and 2017, represents a qualitative advancement in war destruction evaluation. Until now, the analysis of building damage in conflict zones provided incomplete and biased information, mainly due to manual procedures. The proposed algorithm compares satellite images collected over time, allowing for more precise, frequent, and extensive data generation on destruction.

SEIO-Fundación BBVA 2023 Awards recognize originality, innovation, and contributions to statistics and operations research, with the dual objective of promoting research in this area and its projection into society. With this award, the study has received recognition for its significant contribution to statistics and operations research applied to data science and big data.