Local universities, NGOs, private sector and government agencies have been asked to collaborate on research and innovations especially in use of Big Data, IoT and high powered computing (HPC) for service delivery and problem solving instead of working in silos.
Due to lack of collaboration, these players in research, big data and IoT among others render their work less effective or end up reinventing the wheel and waste a lot of resources in the process.
“African Universities have not been very good at engaging the private sector and non-governmental agencies like UNEP. However, there is a lot of shared data that can help us solve our pressing problems,” said Prof. Paul Tiyambe Zeleza Vice Chancellor of USIU-Africa.
Prof. Zeleza was speaking at a USIU-led HPC Meets Environment forum held at the just ended Third Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly at the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP)headquarters in Nairobi.
Zeleza added that though a lot of training and resources around HPC are needed, these institutions could work together to take their research projects mainstream to avoid duplication of activities and solve community problems.
For example, the UNEP has fitted six IoT air quality monitoring systems in locations in Nairobi. USIU is also working on a similar system. There could be a possibility that another university or government agency like National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) could be a good partner to work with on these.
According to Zeleza, it’s not like research has not been done in Africa or among universities and government agencies but the problem is that the research findings are recorded in journals and publications kept in university libraries and government or NGO offices which are not utilized or read.
The possibilities of HPC are endless and the forum added that there is need to have more HPCs and research & innovation centers to create a continental framework to realize environmental sustainability. USIU is providing a space for researchers, students, innovators at their innovation center to spearhead environmental sustainability.
The primary goal of higher education is teaching to contribute to the national economy and then to produce and disseminate new knowledge and then translating it into policy and provide service as a thinking tank to understand and provide answers to the society.
Instead of players such as universities, NGOs, government agencies and research agencies working in silos, there is need for them to work together to solve such problems. The government could also be needed to give the direction on HPC, IoT and Big Data.
Global issues such as air pollution, food security, crime, diseases and sanitation, urban housing, pollution and poor health can be easily solved when governments support research organisations with the necessary tools such as the HPC, which can in turn be used to promote issue-based data collection and research to solve these problems.
As partners, universities and governments can develop and test innovations such as the car early early warning system for road signs, climate change, resource assessment and air quality monitoring. For these solutions to be deployed, government participation is necessary.