From the Ground to the Cloud: Day 4
John Heinlein, Chief of Staff at Arm, recaps sharing pasts and futures with young people in Malawi.
Since 2015, UNICEF and Arm have been seeking to unlock the life-saving potential of technology to solve the most complex problems facing the world’s children, now and in the future. In Malawi, Arm has taken action through funding UNICEF Innovation programming focusing on child development and emergency preparedness.
In November 2019, a field trip to Malawi allowed Arm leaders to experience programmes firsthand, inspiring them to identify opportunities for co-created technology solutions that will help deliver on the UN’s Global Goals.
7 November 2019 — LILONGWE, MALAWI. John Heinlein, Vice President and Chief of Staff to the CEO at Arm, is at Daeyang University, Lilongwe, Malawi, with UNICEF Innovation, UNICEF UK, and many young innovators and budding entrepreneurs from Malawi. He is joined by Kate Kallot, AI Ecosystems Director; Louise Paul, Developer Program Manager; President & COO, Graham Budd; Design Engineer, Hetansh Shah; and Sustainability Manager, Fran Baker.
After several days of learning, today was a day for us to really earn our crust – showing what Arm is all about, and how technology can support contextual, scalable and sustainable entrepreneurship.
In the morning, we headed to Daeyang University to meet with young innovators working with UNICEF to find out about the challenges they face and – ultimately – to help them architect solutions to tackle them. But first, they needed to know who we were and what expertise we could offer, so we kicked off with some introductions.
First up was Graham, who gave a walkthrough of Arm’s evolution, and his personal journey, from Executive Vice President and General Manager of the “Processor Division” (as it was then known) through to his current role of President and Chief Operating Officer.
Next, Kate’s session dispelled some of the myths around AI and machine learning – no, it’s not “difficult” or expensive, and doesn’t require a cloud connection or powerful hardware – and gave and introduction to basic concepts such as edge computing, natural language processing and TinyML – machine learning (ML) for ultra-low power systems. The students were quick to see the advantage of low-power, on-device ML, and its potential for deployment in areas where connectivity and power are limited.
Louise then introduced the Arm Innovator Programme, highlighting some fantastic projects using Arm technology, before Fran looked at tech for good and case studies of Arm tech in action for the Global Goals – Simprints, Amplio, Wildlabs and Ol Pejeta Conservancy.
Arm guest partner and friend, Dr Ciira wa Maina – Senior Lecturer in Electrical Engineering at Dedan Kimathi University of Technology, Kenya, and lynchpin of Data Science Africa (DSA) – then gave an insight into DSA’s end-to-end approach to machine learning.
This method of problem solving gives innovators a holistic view, with a single, small team identifying an issue and gathering and analyzing data, as well as determining the solution. In some cases, the teams also build the hardware to gather the data. Pretty impressive.
Arm has supported DSA since 2017.
Aiming for Inspiration
After a short break, it was time to roll up our sleeves and get workshopping to discover ways that Arm technology could help these young people solve problems in their communities. We initially worked in small groups to get the ideas flowing, then opened the discussion up to the room to get different perspectives and input from others with different areas of expertise.
"It was hugely inspiring to see the level of ambition and enterprise in the room; I’m pretty sure that each and every one of the participants will go on to make a positive impact.
It felt like a real privilege to play even a small part in helping them achieve their goals."
Designing the Way Forward
In the afternoon it was back to UNICEF HQ, for a workshop to develop a framework for ongoing collaboration between Arm and UNICEF, hosted by an integration and innovation specialist. The more we heard about their current activities – and their far-reaching plans for the future – the more it became clear to us that the Malawi office is a best-in-class example of innovation for children.
(You can read more about these projects – including predictive flood modelling and the first ever longitudinal study on child development based on wearable technologies – in yesterday’s post.)
In the evening, we were invited to the home of the Malawi Country Representative, Rudolph Shcwenk, and his wife Anike. Anike was quick to advise us of their strict protocol: "Rudolf does all the talking at work, Ido all the talking at home!”.
It was a relaxing end to an intensive day that had seen us all inspired by our shared values, and our shared vision for the future. There’s plenty of work still to do, but we have the energy and enthusiasm to tackle it. Bring it on!
Arm technology is at the heart of a computing and connectivity revolution that is transforming the way people live and businesses operate. Our advanced, energy-efficient processor designs have enabled intelligent computing in more than 150 billion chips and our technology now securely power products from the sensor to the smartphone and the supercomputer. In combination with our IoT device, connectivity and data management platform, we are also enabling customers with powerful and actionable business insights that are generating new value from their connected devices and data. Together with 1,000+ technology partners we are at the forefront of designing, securing and managing all areas of compute from the chip to the cloud.