AI for Humanitarian Action projects
Learn about the nonprofits and humanitarian organizations working with the support of our grants program.
Acoustic recognition of illegal weapons
Benetech partnered with Microsoft to develop advanced sound-based systems for identifying the suspected use of internationally banned cluster bomb weapons, based on recordings of explosions in warzones.Learn about Benetech
The use of cluster bombs is prohibited under international law, due to their indiscriminate effect on civilian casualties. Identifying the use of cluster bombs can be difficult to confirm, despite often overwhelming anecdotal accounts alleging their presence.
Cluster bombs produce a distinctive popping sound when they explode. Benetech developed an acoustic-based weapons classification system to identify the likelihood of a cluster bomb being used, based on a recording of a given explosion.
Digital evidence to build a more complete picture
The United Nation’s International Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) is tasked with collecting evidence and building international war crime cases. They will use acoustic analysis as part of Benetech’s JusticeAI video analytics platform. Structured digital evidence alongside eyewitness testimony can enable the IIIM to build a more complete picture of alleged uses of weapons prohibited under international law.
How it works
The project uses recordings of cluster bomb explosions to generate spectrograms, visual representations of audio that show noise frequencies on a graph. The spectrograms are used to train a machine learning algorithm to identify sound frequency patterns. By applying the model to recordings of explosions, investigators can more easily identify and document use of banned cluster bombs.