Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) MX-UK Integrative Think-Tank (ITT) on Environmental Resilience

This Integrative Think Tank (ITT) event was a collaboration between the ART-AI CDT, the SAMBa CDT, social policy science researchers, and two institutions in Mexico (CIMAT and UNAM). The Partners were CENAPRED, SACMEX and the Government of Jalisco. The event was held from the 10th-14th May 2021

This Integrative Think Tank (ITT) event was a collaboration between the ART-AI CDT, the  SAMBa CDT, social policy science researchers, and two institutions in Mexico (CIMAT and UNAM). ITTs are mechanisms to develop the formulation of a multidisciplinary problem at a fundamental research level from high level challenges presented by partners outside of the basic research area.

The event was held from the 10th-14th May 2021 and due to the current pandemic it was held online. At the event there were 60 participants, made up of students, staff and partners, working across different time zones exploring 6 different Environmental Resilience topics. Joint sessions for the main activities were organised during UK afternoons and Mexican mornings so that everyone could join, but with groups from each country working independently before and after this time.

The partners involved in the ITT were three governmental organisations:

  1. CENAPRED, the Mexican National Center for the Prevention of Disasters
  2. SACMEX, the water utility overseers for Mexico City.
  3. Government of Jalisco, a regional body overseeing all aspects of governance in the state of Jalisco.

Participants at the ITT explored challenges including how to classify seismic signals from the Popocatepetl volcano, how to debug a seismic catalogue, how to calculate final users’ water consumption, how to optimise water supply and how to map forest fire risk.

During the week long ITT participants used AI and computational mathematical and statistical approaches to understand aspects of these broad questions, while taking account of the societal and social impacts. This has generated some strong collaborative research activity which is now being pursued through continuing discussions between partners and the teams who worked on the problem formulation.

On the last day of the ITT all participants came back together to hear the teams present their work to the partners. Feedback from this ITT was positive, with one participant highlighting the benefits in working across different time zones “We had more time to work as the time-zone differences implied a larger total amount of working hours.” Another participant commented: “It was very good! I had a lot of fun and learned a lot of new people and things.


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