Arm Mbed at Data Science Africa 2017: Part 1

Part I - The road to Arusha

by Damon Civin, Principal Data Scientist at Arm.

This was written in a few locations and states of mind. I hope it’s useful and entertaining as a travelogue through an IoT lense.

Excitement in Wyboston

The first (feeling, location) tuple. I can’t wait to see the possibilities that arise from talking to researchers and students at Data Science Africa 2017. As a form of giving something back to Professor Neil Lawrence (Sheffield and Amazon) for giving a keynote address Arm’s first Data & Insights Summit, he asked Arm to sponsor his choice of conference: Data Science Africa 2017.

Almost immediately, Bee Hayes-Thakore and team kindly agree to sponsor the conference and donate about 100 Mbed boards. Jan Jongboom, our IoT developer-evangelist, agreed to join me on a trip to Arusha, Tanzania. Heroes! 

Inspiration online 

There is a wealth of machine learning and data science expertise in East Africa (Ciira Maina, Engineer Bainomugisha, Ernest Mwebaze, to name a few people).

After a few Skype meetings with these researchers, based in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, we formulated a rough plan. Jan will deliver a series of hands-on tutorials to get students up to speed on Mbed OS and Mbed Cloud. I’ll deliver a keynote to researchers, and we’ll arrange fieldwork to experimentally deploy Mbed based sensors in two places in Arusha:

  1.  Cows at the Livestock Training Agency, to predict the optimal time for artificial insemination.
  2.  Chicken coops at Tanzanite poultry farms to keep temperature and humidity optimal for the well being of the chickens.

With these use cases locked in, Katie MorganKristen Selwood and Jan Jongboom shipped the devices to Tanzania.

Fear and loathing in Silicon Valley

I hate needles, but I need to get vaccinated for rabies, tetanus and a bunch of other nasty bugs. Four weekly visits to the clinic later, I have a bunch of antimalaria drugs, and I’m ready to go to Tanzania.

All good! Except my passport is stuck with the German Consulate in San Francisco as I try to get a Schengen visa for a post-DSA17 visit to the EU. This eventually gets unstuck at 4 pm the day before my 10:30 am flight … Stressful. It wasn’t all painful. Jan stopped by the San Jose office on his travels to teach the data science team how to get data from device to cloud with Mbed. 

Mission focus at 10km above Manitoba

I have reading material for a 21-hour multipart flight and an interesting week ahead! The convergence of machine and learning has the potential to democratize the value gained from the analysis of large datasets, especially in developing countries. Hopefully this is a step toward Arm taking a leadership role in making that happen. Let’s see.

Hospitality in Arusha

I've arrived in Arusha. Jan's arrived, too, though his luggage hasn't... It's beautiful here, though in typical conference style, I'm sure we'll be stuck in a meeting room almost the whole time. Here's a picture of Mount Meru.

I’ll be tweeting as we go! Follow along at @Dcivin, the tag #datascienceafrica2017 or @Arm mbed

Author Bio

Damon leads a Data Science team at Arm, the chip design company that is shaping the smart connected world. The team is based in Cambridge, UK and San Jose, USA and works globally, across all parts of the company, from commercial operations to hardware engineering and IoT services. Damon has an MSc in Applied Mathematics from the University of Pretoria and a PhD in Mathematical Analysis from the University of Cambridge. After graduating, he worked as a machine-learning developer at a cyber-security startup in Cambridge UK before joinng Arm in 2015. Find him on TwitterMedium and LinkedIn and the Arm community.